October 14, 2013 / 3:49 PM / 4 years ago

US STOCKS-Wall St down with little progress in Washington

4 Min Read

* Some progress, but no clear sign of end to fiscal impasse

* Utilities showing worst decline among S&P sectors

* Indexes off: Dow 0.5 pct; S&P 0.4 pct; Nasdaq 0.3 pct

By Julia Edwards

NEW YORK, Oct 14 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks were down on Monday on disappointment from investors that weekend talks did not resolve an impasse that threatens a possible U.S. default that looms three days away.

U.S. stocks had risen sharply ahead of the weekend on hopes a deal was near to raise the $16.7 trillion federal borrowing limit. Failure to raise the debt ceiling would leave the world's biggest economy unable to pay its bills in the coming weeks.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Republican leader Mitch McConnell held talks that Reid later called "substantive." Reid did not provide details, but his remarks gave some hope that Congress soon might pass legislation to fund the government and raise its borrowing authority.

All ten sectors on the S&P were down. The S&P utilities index was the worst decliner, down 1.3 percent. Exelon Corp. fell 1.7 percent, despite utilities generally being seen as safe stocks for investors during economic uncertainty, most likely due to the sector's tie to interest rates.

"No sector is safe and as interest rates go up in other parts of capital markets, the dividends of utilities don't look as attractive," said Ron Florance, deputy CIO for investment strategy at Wells Fargo Private Bank.

The S&P 500 index is still above its 50-day moving average. The moving average represents a measure of the near-term trend in the market. Once the index falls convincingly below the 50-day moving average, investors often will sell shares.

"I think people are doubting the 17th," said Florance. "I don't think there is any Wall Street belief that the federal government is actually going to default on their bonds. There are other mechanics that they can use in this mess, but investors are just exhausted with this irresponsibility."

In addition, the government shutdown, entering its third week, was seen as a drag on the economy by shaving a small percentage off the GDP with each passing day.

The Dow Jones industrial average was down 69.94 points, or 0.46 percent, at 15,167.17. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index was down 7.30 points, or 0.43 percent, at 1,695.90. The Nasdaq Composite Index was down 10.57 points, or 0.28 percent, at 3,781.30.

Both the Senate and House are scheduled to be in session on Monday, even though it is the Columbus Day federal holiday. No economic data and major earnings were due Monday.

Also pressuring the market was trade data from China, which showed an unexpected decrease in exports in September, the weakest performance in three months. Another set of data showed Chinese consumer prices rose faster than expected in September.

Netflix Inc shares rose 3.9 percent at $312.81 after the Wall Street Journal reported that the company is in talks with several U.S. cable television companies, including Comcast Corp and Suddenlink Communications , to make its streaming video service available through their set-top boxes.

Expedia Inc shares were off nearly 8 percent at $47.74 after a rating cut by Deutsche Bank AG.

Major companies will resume reporting third-quarter earnings. On Tuesday, earnings are expected from Citigroup Inc , Coca-Cola Co, Johnson & Johnson, and Intel Corp.

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