The government shutdown is now in its fourth day, and we're at a point where investors will begin feeling the impact. The Department of Labor's employment report was due this morning, but the shutdown has prompted a delay. This is the employment report that's most anticipated by Wall Street and is the first major data point that will be missing from day-to-day activity.
If you're looking for employment data, payroll processor ADP released its jobs report this week. It said the economy added 166,000 jobs in September and revised August's job growth down to 159,000 from 176,000. The Labor Department's figures can vary slightly from ADP's, but they're generally in the same range, so they can be a proxy for the week.
The more noticeable impact of the shutdown will be on the economy. A Bloomberg survey of 40 economists predicted that a one-week shutdown would result in 0.1% slower economic growth. Because growth is already at anemically low levels, this is just another kick to companies and consumers who are already on edge.
On Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) is down a modest 0.31% as of 10:15 a.m. EDT. This follows a slight rise in European stocks today and is another indication that Wall Street isn't expecting the government shutdown to last long. If the shutdowns enter a second week and the debt ceiling gets closer, that sentiment may change.
One Dow stock to watch in the near term is Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), which is reportedly looking to find ways to get Windows on Android smartphones. Bloomberg has reported that operating-systems chief Terry Myerson has even discussed dropping the Windows licensing fee entirely. Windows is still a small player in smartphones, and one challenge facing Microsoft is building a user base that's big enough to attract app developers. Getting onto Android devices may be a way to do that, even if they have to give it away for free.
HTC is reportedly interested in the option. After Microsoft bought Nokia's handset business, a deal with HTC would tie Microsoft to another struggling manufacturer. It remains to be seen whether Microsoft is using a winning strategy in mobile, but it's certainly scraping the bottom of the barrel when it comes to partners. HTC just reported a one-third drop in revenue and a quarterly loss, making it just the latest mobile company to fall from grace.