Soft jobs data and shutdown weigh on US markets

As the partial shutdown of the US government rolls on into its second day, cutting into hopes that it might prove to be short-lived, share prices have fallen on Wall Street.

We saw a small bounce in the US stock indices yesterday, as investors bought into the market on speculation that the shutdown would be brief, but that optimism has weakened today, giving way to concern about the potential cost in terms of economic growth.

By early afternoon in New York, the Dow had fallen 0.45% or 68 points to 15,123, while the S&P 500 index shed 0.28% of its value to lie at 1690.2.

Concerns over the economic well-being of the US have not been helped by employment data released today by ADP that showed 166,000 employees being added to private payrolls in September. While that is an improvement on August’s downwardly-revised 159,000 (originally reported as 176,000), it was lower than the 180,000 that had been forecast by economists polled by Reuters and, given the amount of monetary stimulus being provided by the Fed, it is a not particularly inspiring level.

The disappointing jobs data, along with the ongoing shutdown, have continued to pile the pressure on the US dollar, which slipped against many of its major peers today.

The price of US light, crude oil has risen more than 2% today, after TransCanada Corp said it anticipates finishing work on the southern segment of its Keystone pipeline expansion by the end of the month. The extra pipeline capacity provided by Keystone will help ease the glut of crude at Cushing, Oklahoma, the price settlement point for US oil futures.

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