U.S. stocks fluctuate on Yellen pick as lawmakers seek debt deal

Fed Minutes

The Fed will today release minutes from its Sept. 17-18 meeting, at which officials unexpectedly maintained the pace of its monthly purchases. That decision pushed the S&P 500 to a record close of 1,725.52. The gauge retreated 4.1% through yesterday since then.

The government shutdown has delayed the release of economic data, including the Labor Department’s monthly payrolls report, which was due Oct. 4. The lack of data is making it harder for Fed policy makers to assess the health of the economy as they consider when to start paring unprecedented monetary stimulus. Central bankers next convene Oct. 29-30.

‘Just Waiting’

“We’re just waiting for these issues to be sorted and go into a new reporting season,” Guy de Blonay, a London-based fund manager at Jupiter Asset Management Ltd., which oversees about $46 billion, said by telephone, referring to the impasse in Washington. “The longer it takes to sort out, the more problematic it becomes and the more the stock market will have to price in the future implications for growth prospects. But I would be surprised if we don’t see some sort of agreement relatively soon.”

Investors will focus on companies’ financial results for clues on the economy’s performance, as Alcoa yesterday became the first S&P 500 company to report results whose fiscal year follows the calendar. JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Wells Fargo & Co. will also report this week.

Profits for companies in the S&P 500 probably increased 1.7% during the third quarter while sales rose 2.2%, according to analysts’ estimates compiled by Bloomberg. Analysts forecast earnings growth will accelerate to 8.9% in the final three months of the year.

Alcoa climbed 3.8% to $8.25. The aluminum producer reported better-than-forecast quarterly earnings after its smelting business returned to profitability and results improved at a unit that makes auto and aerospace parts.

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