2. -- The economic calendar in the U.S. Thursday includes weekly initial jobless claims from the Labor Department at 8:30 a.m. EDT. A report on factory orders for August is expected to be delayed because of the government shutdown.
3. -- U.S. stocks slipped Wednesday as the fiscal drama in Washington dragged on. Markets pared losses from earlier in the day, reflecting the sense that lawmakers will eventually resolve this latest budgetary crisis. The S&P 500 fell 0.07% to close at 1,693.86 after falling as much as 1.1%. The Dow Jones Industrial Average slumped 0.39% to 15,133.14 and the Nasdaq dropped 0.08% to finish at 3,815.02.
4. -- The U.S. limped into a third day of a partial government shutdown Thursday after a White House meeting among President Obama and top congressional leaders yielded no signs of progress but plenty of evidence that Democrats and Republicans remained divided in a dispute that has idled hundreds of thousands of federal workers and curtailed certain nationwide services. "The House could act today to reopen the government and stop the harm this shutdown is causing to the economy and families across the country," the White House said in a written statement after the session. In a jab at the GOP-led chamber, the White House added, "The president remains hopeful that common sense will prevail." House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, complained to reporters that Obama had said anew that "he will not negotiate." Boehner made clear that curbing the health care overhaul that Obama pushed into law three years ago remains part of the price for returning 800,000 furloughed federal workers to their jobs and re-opening the curtailed programs.
5. -- United Technologies (UTX - Get Report) said it may furlough more than 5,000 workers if the U.S. government shutdown continues into November. The company said Wednesday that its Sikorsky division, which makes Black Hawk helicopters, would be hit first. It expects nearly 2,000 employees, including those employed at facilities in Connecticut, Florida and Alabama, will be furloughed on Monday. United Technologies said it would halt some defense manufacturing because government inspectors themselves have been furloughed. That leaves it without the necessary federal approvals to make military products, the company said. If the shutdown continues through next week, the furloughs would extend to its Pratt & Whitney and UTC Aerospace Systems division, bringing the total number of employees furloughed up to 4,000. That number could top 5,000 if the shutdown stretches into October. United Technologies shares fell 2.2% on Wednesday to $104.98.
6. -- BlackBerry (BBRY - Get Report) shares rose 0.5% on Wednesday to $7.96 on potential new bidder interest from private-equity group Cerberus Capital Management. The The Wall Street Journal reported Cerberus is seeking a confidentiality agreement to allow access to all of BlackBerry's financial information. After Cerberus has reviewed the material, it will evaluate whether to proceed with a bid.
7. -- Hedge-fund manager William Ackman restructured his big bet against Herbalife (HLF - Get Report) to protect against further paper losses, he told investors in a new letter Wednesday, The Wall Street Journal reported. Ackman said he wanted to mitigate his firm's risks while still providing for big gains if Herbalife shares decline within the near future, as he expects, the Journal said. "In recent weeks we have restructured the position by reducing our short equity position by more than 40% and replacing it with long-term derivatives, principally over-the-counter put options," he wrote in the letter, dated Oct. 2. Ackman publicly alleged last year that Herbalife was a pyramid scheme and announced a $1 billion short bet against the nutrition supplements maker. But the stock has gained strongly and the Journal reported last month that Ackman's losses on the bet were more than $300 million.