US stocks on track for gain, despite debt ceiling jitters

The major US indices have made small advances today, lifted by positive comments from Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid.

With today being Columbus Day in the US, there has been no economic data, leaving the market to be jostled around by news reports coming out of Washington with regard to the debt ceiling negotiations.

Concern over the lack of progress had earlier depressed stock prices, pushing the major US index benchmarks into negative territory, but Harry Reid’s comment that he is ‘very optimistic’ about reaching a deal with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell helped fuel a bounce in the stock market.

President Obama had been scheduled to meet Congressional leaders at 3pm in Washington (8pm BST), the first such gathering since 2 October, but the meeting at the White House has been pushed back in order to allow the talks between the Senate leaders to continue in hopes of reaching an agreement to raise the debt ceiling and bring an end to the partial government shutdown.

With under an hour to the close of stock trading in New York, the Dow Jones was up 0.3% or 44 points at 15,281, while the S&P 500 gained 0.4% to 1710.1.

It’s been a quiet day in general, with financial markets in Japan, Hong Kong and Canada all closed for public holidays, as well as the US bond markets. We have manufacturing data released tomorrow for the New York area, with the Fed’s Empire State Manufacturing survey for October, the release of which is unaffected by the government shutdown

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