U.S. stocks rise as optimism grows over ending budget impasse

U.S. stocks rose, with the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index (CME:SPZ13) trimming its a weekly decline, as optimism grew that the lawmakers would reach a deal to end the budget impasse and avoid a default on the federal debt.

Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ:FB) climbed 2% after the operator of the world’s most popular social network said it will sell advertising on its Instagram photo service. Union Pacific Corp. declined 0.9% after its earnings forecast missed analysts’ projections.

The S&P 500 climbed 0.4% to 1,685.06 at 10:26 a.m. in New York. The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 40.84 points, or 0.3%, to 15,037.32. Trading in S&P 500 stocks was 15percent below the 30-day average at this time of day.

“Posturing aside, I think a resolution is on its way,” said Manish Singh, who helps manage $2 billion as head of investments at Crossbridge Capital in London. “It’s good that the House speaker is determined to prevent a U.S. default even if the debt-ceiling bill does not have majority Republican support. A federal default is a bigger concern for markets than the budget disagreement.”

The S&P 500 has fallen 0.5% this week as the first partial government shutdown in 17 years began on Oct. 1, placing as many as 800,000 federal employees on unpaid leave and closing some services.

House Republicans prepared to meet at 10 a.m. in Washington to discuss a compromise to end the standoff. Speaker John Boehner has been telling his party that he won’t allow the U.S. to default on its debt, even if that requires Democratic votes, according to two Republican congressional aides.

Political ‘Theatrics’

Pacific Investment Management Co.’s Bill Gross and BlackRock Inc.’s Larry Fink said the showdown will be resolved without a debt default.

“It’s theatrics posed by politicians to get ratings or to get their way via legislation,” Gross said yesterday at an event in Beverly Hills, California.

The budget impasse has raised concern that lawmakers will be unable to make progress on a deal to increase the debt limit. The Treasury has said measures to avoid exceeding the $16.7 trillion cap will be exhausted by Oct. 17 and warned yesterday that a default could have catastrophic consequences that might last decades.

The shutdown delayed the release of the Labor Department’s monthly payrolls report, which was due today. The lack of data is making it harder for Federal Reserve policy makers to assess the health of the economy as they consider when to start paring unprecedented monetary stimulus.

The shortage “would tend to make me somewhat more cautious” about reducing the monthly pace of bond purchases, Atlanta Fed President Dennis Lockhart said yesterday.

Fed Bank of San Francisco President John Williams estimated yesterday a two-week government halt would shave 0.25 percentage point off fourth-quarter economic growth.

The S&P 500 has still rallied 18% this year, fueled by Fed stimulus and better-than-forecast corporate earnings that have helped the gauge rally more than 150% from a March 2009.

The Chicago Board Options Exchange Volatility Index, or VIX, dropped 2.2% to 17.28 today, trimming its weekly gain to 12%. The equity volatility gauge closed yesterday at the highest level since June 25.

All 10 main groups in the S&P 500 advanced, with health- care companies advancing 0.7% to pace gains. Johnson & Johnson rose 0.8% to $87.23.

Dentsply International Inc. jumped 3.3% to $44.66 for the biggest gain in the S&P 500. Bank of America raised its rating on shares in the dental supplies maker to buy.

Facebook rose 2% to $50.17 after saying it will sell advertising space on Instagram in its first effort to make money from its biggest ever acquisition.

In the most anticipated technology offering since Facebook, Twitter Inc. made public its S-1 prospectus yesterday and said it’s seeking to raise $1 billion. The documents suggested a valuation of $12.8 billion for the microblogging service.

Union Pacific dropped 0.9% to $154.02 after the railroad operator said it sees third-quarter earnings of $2.45 to $2.48 a share, compared with the average analyst forecast of $2.56. Operating revenue will increase as much as 4.5%, the company said, compared with a 7% gain predicted by analysts.

Competitor CSX Corp. slid 1.6% to $25.28 for the second-biggest decline in the S&P 500.

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