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Stocks Extend Gains, Shutdown Avoided & 'Free Britney' Elated - 5 Things You Must Know

Stock futures extend gains to close out September; Senate agrees to avoid shutdown, remains divided on debt ceiling; Evergrande misses third bond payment and Judge suspends Britney Spears' father from thirteen-year conservatorship.

Here are five things you must know for Thursday, September 30:

1. -- Stock Futures Gain As Markets Close Out Brutal September Trading

U.S. equity futures moved higher again Thursday, but are still on pace for their worst monthly performance of the year, as investors continue to navigate a series of risks linked to energy markets, China growth and U.S. fiscal policy.

Senate Democrats may have neutralized at least one of those concerns Thursday with a bill they say can avoid a Friday government shutdown while finding support across party lines. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer will hold a vote this morning, paving the way to President Joe Biden's desk prior to the midnight deadline.

In China, however, a surprise slowdown in China manufacturing activity this month, linked to rolling power cuts across the industrial northeast, underscored the myriad challenges facing the world's second largest economy heading into the final months of the year.

On Wall Street, futures contracts tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average are indicating solid gains for the final trading day of the month, with the benchmark poised for a 195 point opening bell gain. Futures tied to the S&P 500, which is down 3.6% for the month but holding on to a 1.44% third quarter gain, are priced for a 24 point advance, 

Nasdaq Composite futures, are looking at a more modest 80 point opening bell gain as benchmark 10-year note yields hover around the 1.522% level in early New York trading.

2. -- Senate Leaders Avoid Shutdown, But Debt Ceiling Looms

U.S. lawmakers look set to pass legislation Thursday that will fund the government through to December that avoids a damaging shutdown but leaves many key challenges, including the looming debt ceiling unanswered.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer will call a floor vote Thursday on a bill that will fund basic government operations until early December that is expected to find bipartisan support in both houses of Congress.

The fate of the looming debt ceiling, which could prevent any further government borrowing beyond October 1, and the passage of both a $1 trillion infrastructure bill and a broader $3.5 trillion budget plan, remain unknown as House Democrats continue to bicker over the size, scope and timing of the twin pieces of legislation that form the central plank of President Joe Biden's economic agenda.

"We're obviously at a precarious and important time," White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters late Wednesday. 

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3. -- Evergrande Misses Second OffShore Bond Payment

China Evergrande, the indebted property developer, missed another bond payment Thursday, raising concerns among international investors that it may prioritize domestic creditors as it scrambles to avoid collapse.

Staggering under more than $300 billion in debts, with nearly a billion in bond payments due before the end of the year, and a liquidity crisis tied to unfished properties and surging construction costs, Evergrande reportedly failed to make a $47.5 million payment on a dollar bond following a similar miss of an $87.5 million coupon last week.

The concern was compound by the group's plans to see a $1.5 billion stake in Shengjing Bank Co., a state-backed asset management group, and use the proceeds to pay domestic creditors, leaving foreign investors with fewer real assets to recoup in the case of a default. 

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4. -- Record Quarter For Global M&A; IPOs Slow Amid China 'Pause'

Spac deals, gaming takeovers and fintech expansions into 'buy now, pay later' payment firms sparked a record rally in third quarter M&A that lifted the total value of transactions past $1.5 trillion.

Refinitiv data suggests global M&A is on pace for its best year since the global financial crisis, in fact, as a combination of record-low interest rates, peak-value stocks and the drive to transform business structures in post-pandemic economies accelerated deal-making in markets around the world.

IPOs, however, slowed modest over the three months ending in September, with just under $100 billion raised amid a pause in China-based listings on U.S. exchanges called for by Securities & Exchange Commission Chairman Gary Gensler.

Still, global IPOs have raised more than $421 billion over the nine months ending in September, through more than 2,000 listings, and are on pace for the best year since the dot-com era of 2000.  

5. -- Judge Suspends Father From Free Britney Spears' Conservatorship 

A California judge suspended the father of Britney Spears from overseeing her financial affairs late Wednesday, setting up the likely termination of her infamous thirteen-year conservatorship. 

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Brenda ruled that Jamie Spears' role in the conservatorship, which was established in 2008 following the singer's reported mental breakdown, was "toxic" and "not tenable". She set a hearing for November 12 to the fate of the arrangement, which has controlled both the personal life and the $60 million estate of the iconic entertainer.