Stocks Fall as Congress at Government Shutdown Standstill

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- The S&P 500 closed the week lower Friday amid anxiety over the ongoing budget negotiations in Washington. A worse-than-expected report on U.S. consumer sentiment for September helped extend the losses seen at the market open.

Lawmakers must agree to an emergency budget deal by Monday in order to allow key federal government services to continue running through Dec. 15 from the start of the new fiscal year on Oct. 1. It's estimated that a U.S. government shutdown could reduce economic growth in the fourth quarter by up to 1.4 percentage points.

The S&P 500 slumped 0.41% to 1,691.73. TheDow Jones Industrial Average shed 0.46% to 15,258.24. The Nasdaq declined 0.15% to 3,781.59.

Investors displayed uncertainty as to whether Washington politicians would reach a deal to keep the government funded, and have not forgotten Congress' inability in summer 2011 to avoid infighting over raising the debt ceiling, said Aaron Izenstark, chief investment officer of IRON Financial.

"Unease over the budget and debt ceiling uncertainties emanating from Washington may have played some role in the decline in sentiment since the summer (similar patterns were evident prior to the fiscal cliff last year and negotiations in 2011) although other factors, such as stock market gains and improvement in the housing market, likely continue to support a gradual upward trend," Peter Newland, an economist with Barclays in New York, wrote in a client note.

J.C. Penney (JCP) was the most prominent decliner in the S&P Friday, plunging 13.2% to $9.05. The company is looking to raise more than $800 million in equity as the struggling department store chain looks to build up its cash reserves heading into the holiday season. J.C. Penney shares have had a rocky week, down 20% since last Friday. On Wednesday, Goldman Sachs credit analysts issued a report initiating an "underperform" rating on the company's debt. The analysts said they had concerns about the company's liquidity.

Cerner (CERN) was the biggest percentage gainer on the S&P after the company announced a partnership with Intermountain Healthcare. Shares of the company popped 8% to $52.61

International Game Technology (IGT) pulled down the index, shedding 7% to $19.23. The stock was downgraded at Deutsche Bank to "hold" from "buy." The analysts said their decision was a valuation call based on a $22 price target.

Nike (NKE) popped 4.7% to $73.64. The athletic apparel company reported fiscal first-quarter net income that increased 38% from the same time last year and earnings of 86 cents a share, which exceeded the consensus target.

Revenue grew 8% to $6.97 billion. The company predicted China revenue growth in the current quarter and sales to be essentially flat for the full year.

The final September estimate on the University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index came in at 77.5, below both the average economist estimate of 78 and the August reading of 82.1. The September number indicates a decline in U.S. consumer sentiment to its lowest point in nearly half a year impacted by economic growth worries and rising interest rates. The figure was higher than the preliminary reading of 76.8.

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.

New York Federal Reserve Bank President William Dudley told an audience at the Whitman School of Management at Syracuse University in Syracuse, New York Friday that the congressional debates on government funding for the next fiscal year and the debt limit is creating uncertainty about the fiscal outlook and may exert a "restraining influence" on household and business spending.

U.S. stocks rebounded Thursday after a five-day losing streak for the S&P 500, its longest losing streak since December, as the latest jobless claims numbers provided a constructive read on the labor market ahead of next week's widely-watched monthly government jobs report. There was also hope that Washington's fiscal drama will come to a halt even if it means an 11th-hour budget deal.

The benchmark 10-year Treasury was rising 6/32, lowering the yield to 2.63%.

-- Written by Andrea Tse and Joe Deaux in New York

>To contact the writer of this article, click here: Andrea Tse.>

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