* Obama shows flexibilty on short-term debt limit hike
* Talisman Energy climbs on Icahn stake
* PHH exploring unit split - sources
* J.C. Penney jumps on turnaround update
* Futures up: Dow 9 pts, S&P 1.1 pts, Nasdaq up 4.5 pts
By Chuck Mikolajczak
NEW YORK, Oct 8 U.S. stocks were poised for a
flat open on Tuesday on faint signs of progress to resolve the
fiscal standoff in Washington, although an agreement still
With the partial U.S. government shutdown in its second week
and only nine days left for Congress to raise the U.S. debt
ceiling, President Barack Obama said he would accept a
short-term increase to avoid a default.
A Senate aide said Republican Senator Rob Portman, who is
influential on budget matters, floated a plan to cut federal
spending and reform the U.S. tax code as part of a broader deal
to reopen shuttered government agencies and raise the debt
"In this type of environment, pre-earnings season where it
is headline driven by a market bludgeoned with continued sound
bites about the shutdown, it's not a surprise to see markets
make these smaller moves," said Sal Arnuk, co-manager of trading
at Themis Trading in Chatham, New Jersey.
"What is really at stake is a tug of war going on because
investors don't know if they want to avoid getting caught up in
a crisis-driven selloff versus missing a resolution rally."
The shutdown has led to a dearth of economic data releases,
leaving investors to focus on the earnings-reporting season.
However, earnings are more likely to affect individual companies
than drive marketwide moves.
After Tuesday's market close, former Dow component Alcoa Inc
will report earnings as will KFC parent company Yum!
The longer the government shutdown continues, the greater
the damage to the economy, according to analysts, increasing the
probability the Federal Reserve will leave its stimulus measures
S&P 500 futures gained 1.1 points and were roughly
even with fair value, a formula that evaluates pricing by taking
into account interest rates, dividends and time to expiration on
the contract. Dow Jones industrial average futures added
9 points and Nasdaq 100 futures added 4.5 points.
PHH Corp is exploring splitting up its mortgage and
auto fleet leasing businesses and selling each of the units,
three people familiar with the situation told Reuters on Monday.
J.C. Penney Co Inc jumped 6.4 percent to $8.20 in
premarket trading after the struggling retailer reported a
smaller decline in same-store sales for September compared with
August and said it was seeing positive signs in many areas of
U.S.-listed shares of Talisman Energy Inc climbed
6.5 percent to $13.58 before the opening bell after activist
investor Carl Icahn said he had purchased about 61 million
shares of the underperforming Canadian oil producer and may seek
a seat on the company's board.