The broad indices all ended lower, as investors worried over the latest federal budget deadline on Monday. The federal government's fiscal 2013 ends on Sunday, and many government services will shut down on Monday unless Congress and President Obama agree on a new budget over the weekend. In addition to the lack of a budget, Congress once again needs to worry about the federal "debt ceiling," since U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew in a letter to Speaker of the House John Boehner (R., Ohio) on Wednesday said the "extraordinary measures" the Treasury was taking to maintain its borrowing power will "be exhausted no later than Oct. 17," unless the $16.7 trillion federal debt limit is raised.
In economic news on Thursday, the final September estimate for the University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index came in at 77.5, below the average estimate of 78 among economists polled by Thomson Reuters, and considerably lower than the August reading of 82.1.
Also on Thursday, the Bureau of Economic Analysis reported that personal income rose by an as-expected 0.4% in August following an upwardly revised 0.2% gain in July. Personal spending edged up by an as-predicted 0.3% following an upwardly revised 0.2% increase.Sterne Agee chief economist Lindsey Piegza in an email said "after adjusting for inflation, real personal spending rose 0.2% in August following a 0.1% increase the month prior and 2.0% year-over-year. On an annual basis, consumption has remained stagnant at near 2% since the start of the year, however, on a three-month annualized basis, spending continues to lose momentum falling for the fourth consecutive month to 1.4% in August from a peak of 2.4% in April." Piegza's conclusion from the personal income and consumer spending numbers was rather bleak: "While consumers are still spending, purchases have become increasingly volatile as shoppers drastically shift the goods consumed each month," she said, adding that "without sustainable job and income growth, consumers will be reluctant to loosen their purse strings. " The KBW Bank Index (I:BKX) was down slightly to close at 62.48, with all but nine of the 24 index components showing declines.