Ongoing Budget Battle Smacks Dow to Six-Week Low

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"The market hates uncertainty, and we have a lot of it currently," noted Schaeffer's Senior Technical Strategist Ryan Detrick, CMT. "The government shutdown keeps getting the headlines, but under the surface, the much bigger concern is the debt ceiling decision, which comes to a head on Oct. 17. To me, we can live with a government shutdown, but need to get a resolution on the debt ceiling pronto." Words from President Obama failed to bring comfort to investors, as the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI) trended lower throughout the day, closing with a triple-digit loss.

Continue reading for more on today's market, including :

plus...
    President Obama talks tough, two Federal Reserve officials revisit "tapering," and Nokia ( NOK ) is targeted by put buyers.

Once again, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI - 14,776.53) spent the entire session in the red, as its losses gradually built throughout the session. By the bell, the blue-chip index settled at its lowest close since Aug. 27, down 159.7 points, or 1.1%. Wal-Mart Stores ( WMT ) paced the three advancing Dow names with a gain of 1.4%, while Visa ( V ) continued to lead the declining majority, shedding 2% on the day.

The S&P 500 Index (SPX - 1,655.45) was sharply lower as well, losing 20.7 points, or 1.2%, to close south of its 80-day moving average for the first time since Sept. 4. The Nasdaq Composite (COMP - 3,694.83) surrendered even more of its value, giving back 75.5 points, or 2%, to close just shy of its intraday low.


The CBOE Market Volatility Index (VIX - 20.34) continued to gain ground, adding 0.9 point, or 4.8%. The fear barometer has closed above the 20 level just three times in 2013.

CLOSING SUMMARY - INDICES

CLOSING SUMMARY - NYSE AND NASDAQ

A Trader's Take :

"Earnings season is upon us, but today remained all about Republicans versus Democrats in another session fueled by Washington drama," summarized Detrick. "Elsewhere, momentum names that had held up so well previously were crushed today, and former leaders like small-caps and tech stocks finally cracked. You could argue all groups need to drop before a major bottom can form, and this could be phase one of that."

3 Things to Know About Today's Market :

  • President Barack Obama addressed reporters at 2 p.m. ET, fielding questions about the ongoing -- and so far unproductive -- budget negotiations. Seemingly placing all blame squarely on House Speaker John Boehner's (R-Ohio) shoulders, the commander in chief pled, "Let's stop the excuses. Let's take a vote in the House. Let's end this shutdown right now ." Meanwhile, Mr. Boehner continued to chastise Democratic leaders for "refusing to negotiate." (The Washington Post)
  • The "taper" specter emerged from the shadows today, as two Federal Reserve officials opined that the U.S. economic backdrop is healthy enough to endure a gradual decrease in the central bank's bond-buying efforts. Sandra Pianalto and Charles Plosser -- respective presidents of the Cleveland and Philadelphia Feds -- made separate remarks indicating they would have liked to see a pullback in asset purchases beginning with last month's Federal Open Market Committee meeting. (MarketWatch)
  • The International Monetary Fund (IMF) lowered its forecast for global economic expansion, amid slowing growth in emerging markets and continued ambiguity in the U.S. The IMF now projects global growth of 2.9% and 3.6% for 2013 and 2014, respectively. This is down from the 5.4% growth rate seen in 2007. (The New York Times)

5 Stocks We Were Watching Today :

  1. Volume spiked in LinkedIn ( LNKD ) option pits, as near-term traders scooped up calls and puts expiring this week.
  2. Bearish speculators -- or perhaps shareholders seeking a short-term hedge -- flocked to Nokia Corporation's ( NOK ) options pits today.
  3. Already a favorite among the brokerage bunch, Starbucks Corporation (SBUX) earned a price-target hike from Piper Jaffray ahead of the opening bell.
  4. Bearish options trading heated up on Citigroup (C) ahead of next week's earnings release.
  5. Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) has taken a recent tumble, prompting accelerated put buying and a price-target cut at BMO today.

For a look at today's options movers and commodities activity, head to page 2.

STOCKS - NOTABLE CALL ACTIVITY

STOCKS - NOTABLE PUT ACTIVITY

Commodities :

Oil futures moved modestly higher, as crude watchers await tomorrow's weekly update on petroleum inventories. By the close, November-dated oil had gained 46 cents, or 0.5%, to settle at $103.49 per barrel.

Gold futures were little changed, with investors hesitant to make a move amid continued wrangling in Washington. December gold futures settled with a fractional loss of 50 cents, at $1,324.60 per ounce.

SCHAEFFER'S MARKET POSTURE



The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The NASDAQ OMX Group, Inc.

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This article appears in: Investing , Options

Referenced Stocks: INTC , LNKD , NOK , V , WMT

Schaeffer's Investment Research

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