* Fitch puts U.S. rating on rating watch negative, futures
* House Republicans divided over solution to fiscal impasse
* Citigroup profit hit by bond trading slowdown, shares fall
* Intel and Yahoo both rise after market close on results
* Indexes off: Dow 0.9 pct; S&P 0.7 pct; Nasdaq 0.6 pct
By Ryan Vlastelica
NEW YORK, Oct 15 U.S. stocks fell in a volatile
session on Tuesday as the impasse over the debt ceiling in
Washington continued with no sign of progress toward a
After the market closed, futures indicated continued
pressure after Fitch Ratings placed the United States' 'AAA'
rating on rating watch negative, citing the debt ceiling
"Although Fitch continues to believe that the debt ceiling
will be raised soon, the political brinkmanship and reduced
financing flexibility could increase the risk of a U.S.
default," the rating agency wrote in a statement.
The move echoed a similar action by Standard & Poor's in
August 2011, when the agency downgraded the U.S. credit rating
because of political gridlock related to the debt ceiling.
Futures fell, with S&P 500 futures down 10.7 points,
Dow Jones industrial average futures off 122 points and
Nasdaq 100 futures down 7.5 points.
"The last time this sort of thing happened, the practical
effect on markets wasn't significant. But this time, I don't
know what the impact could be," said John Carey, portfolio
manager at Pioneer Investment Management in Boston, which has
about $200 billion in assets under management.
"At some point this will really start to matter, and if
nothing else, it highlights the concern people have about the
budgetary situation. It lets investors know that this kind of
risk is on the horizon."
During Tuesday's session, traders held off making big bets
given the political uncertainty, which overshadowed some key
corporate earnings. Selling accelerated during the afternoon
after Senator Richard Durbin said Senate negotiations had been
suspended until House Speaker John Boehner can work out a fiscal
plan that can proceed in the House of Representatives.
Losses were broad, with all 10 S&P 500 sectors falling on
the day. Three-fourths of stocks traded on the New York Stock
Exchange ended lower, while 68 percent of Nasdaq-listed shares
The Dow Jones industrial average ended down 133.25
points, or 0.87 percent, at 15,168.01. The Standard & Poor's 500
Index was down 12.08 points, or 0.71 percent, at
1,698.06. The Nasdaq Composite Index was down 21.26
points, or 0.56 percent, at 3,794.01.
Despite the day's decline, the S&P remains above its key
moving averages, which have been serving as support. The index
is currently about 0.6 percent above its 14-day moving average.
Lawmakers have until Oct. 17 to agree to extend the $16.7
trillion U.S. borrowing limit or the country will risk an
unprecedented debt default. The White House and Senate rejected
the House's latest offer, while Republican leaders also failed
to get support for the plan from rank and file members within
Markets have largely avoided steep losses on optimism that
lawmakers would agree to end the partial government shutdown and
raise the debt ceiling. At the same time, volatility has spiked
as the deadline approaches with little obvious progress. The
CBOE Volatility index jumped 16 percent and is up more
than 40 percent over the past four weeks.
"The odds that there won't be a deal over the next month are
near zero, but there is some chance we won't see something by
the 17th. If that happens ... we could easily correct 3-5
percent," said Jim McDonald, who helps oversee $803 billion as
chief investment strategist at Chicago-based Northern Trust
"While the market has climbed over the past two weeks," he
added, "that would reverse if there was any real concern" about
missing the deadline.
Among other assets, crude oil fell 1.5 percent, while
gold, which is viewed as a safe haven, rose 0.7 percent.
The situation in Washington has driven trading lately,
overshadowing the beginning of a busy week of earnings.
Citigroup Inc reported weaker-than-expected results as the
bank was hit by a double-digit drop in bond trading revenue for
the quarter, sending its shares down 1.5 percent to $48.86.
Johnson & Johnson reported stronger-than-expected
quarterly results on strong growth for its prescription drugs,
while Coca-Cola Co reported revenue slightly under
J&J rose 0.1 percent to $89.93 while Coca-Cola fell 0.7
percent to $37.66. Both companies are Dow components.
Intel Corp shares reversed early gains and fell 0.9
percent after the market closed after it reported revenue that
topped expectations. Yahoo Inc also lost its initial
post-market gains, trading flat after its results, while CSX
Corp held on to slight after-hour gains.
Shares of Teradata Corp fell 18.4 percent to $42.91,
a day after the data analytics firm cut its full-year earnings
With 7 percent of S&P 500 companies having reported, 52.8
percent have reported profits that topped expectations,
according to Thomson Reuters data, below the historical average
of 63 percent. There have also been fewer companies beating
revenue forecasts this quarter.
FedEx, the world's No. 2 package carrier, authorized
a share repurchase program of up to 32 million of its
outstanding shares of common stock, sending its shares up 4.1
percent to $120.08.
On the downside, J.C. Penney Co Inc sank 8.9 percent
to $7.17 as a company spokesperson denied a market rumor that
the department store chain had hired bankruptcy counsel. The
stock has fallen 63 percent so far this year.
Data showed the pace of growth in New York state's
manufacturing sector slipped this month to its slowest since
May, but business optimism stayed strong.