Investors got impatient with Washington today, as the stock market reacted negatively to the inability of lawmakers to agree to a way to reopen the federal government in the second day of its shutdown. With some now expecting the shutdown to last a week or longer, the potential macroeconomic impact on the U.S. economy could be more substantial than economists had hoped. In addition, the monthly reading of private-sector employment didn't produce as many jobs as expected, setting a dour tone for the day. The Dow Jones Industrials (DJINDICES: ^DJI ) managed to cut its triple-digit losses from earlier in the session but still finished the day down almost 59 points. Broader markets posted more moderate losses, with the S&P 500 finishing down just 0.1%.
Even in light of the Dow's decline, several Dow stocks managed to climb on the day. The biggest gainer was Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT ) , which rose 1% as investors speculated about calls for board chairman and co-founder Bill Gates to resign from Microsoft's board of directors. As Fool contributor Alex Dumortier reported this morning, private investors are reportedly calling for Gates to step down, arguing that his ongoing divestiture of his formerly massive stake in Microsoft justifies his departure. The calls are interesting in light of other companies actually working to retain founders in leadership positions, especially during times of major transition.
JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM ) also posted gains, climbing 0.8%. The advance was somewhat surprising in light of new reports adding yet another potential legal battle to the bank's long list of litigation. Italian prosecutors are accusing JPMorgan of obstructing regulators who were investigating a merger between two Italian banks, responding to a Bank of Italy statement earlier this year saying that JPMorgan should have informed regulators of guarantees that one of the banks made to JPMorgan covering any potential losses. The gaffe only adds to more pressing legal issues that JPMorgan and the entire U.S. banking industry are facing lately.
Finally, General Electric (NYSE: GE ) climbed two-thirds of a percent as the company won a big energy contract involving a Russian liquefied natural gas deal in Siberia. The contract, worth about $600 million, involves a joint venture between a Russian energy company and France's Total (NYSE: TOT ) , with GE to supply equipment to help build production lines and refrigerate the LNG for transport. The multiyear deal is just the latest example of GE's big push into energy services, and success here could help it expand its LNG expertise for other potential customers as well.
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