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Stocks to watch spending debate; Obamacare in the middle

The U.S. Capitol building in Washington D.C.
Getty Images
The U.S. Capitol building in Washington D.C.

This will be a week where Wall Street will be in thrall to Washington. Stocks are likely to flounder until we get some clarity on Washington's spending intentions. This week, the Senate may vote on a "clean" spending bill (i.e. one that does not defund Obamacare, as the House bill has done) and send it back to the House.

It's odd but true: the issues aren't spending related, or tax related. It's all about President Obama's signature health care legislation.

That makes it both easier and harder to deal with. Easier because it's just one issue. Harder because...that issue happens to be Obamacare.

There is talk about a one-year delay to the individual mandate as a compromise, but why would the Democrats agree to such a deal? There will be yet another bruising battle over Obamacare with the debt ceiling debate, likely in a couple weeks.

There is a chance of a government shutdown, though most traders think that it will be a short one if it happens. I think a shutdown is unlikely because no one wants that to happen.

Part of me wants to say the market has been desensitized with all these Washington maneuvers. Still, don't count out the possibility that the markets will gyrate around the highlights.

Elsewhere

1) Apple blows away iPhone sales estimates with 9 million sales of the new iPhone 5S and 5C over the weekend. Those figures blew away expectations of 6 to 7.5 million sales. The stockholders may have been disappointed, but the users were not. The early reviews have been terrific.

2) Banks slide premarket after Citigroup witnessed a significant drop in third quarter trading revenue, according to reports. C falls 2.9 percent, while peers Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, and JPMorgan Chase are down almost one percent. C is set to report Q3 earnings on Oct. 15.

3) Fed speakers. Dennis Lockhart, William Dudley, and Richard Fisher will speak today, but Dudley is the only voting member of the FOMC. The two leaders of the Fed (Ben Bernanke and Janet Yellen) have been less visible recently, so we can expect lots of focus on any pronouncements from any Fed speaker in the next several weeks.

Dudley said that the two tests for tapering--an improvement in the economy and the labor market--had not been met, and the Fed could "wait a long time" to raise rates after unemployment hits the 6.5 percent target. The real concern is that the message could become more muddled, not more clear, because there will be so many voices speaking without a clear leader.

Over the weekend, Yellen cancelled an October 1st she was going to make at the Economics Club of New York. That is telling.

An interesting article in the Washington Post by Ezra Klein that claims that Summers was doomed as Fed Chairman because at least five Democrats on the Senate Banking Committee didn't think he would be sufficiently tough as a bank regulator. They want someone who's going to be tougher on Wall Street, and they thought Summers was too close.

4) European stocks are down fractionally as Angela Merkel won a landslide victory in Germany's general election on Sunday.

5) China's HSBC flash manufacturing PMI climbed to a six-month high of 51.2 in September.


By CNBC's Bob Pisani

  • A CNBC reporter since 1990, Bob Pisani covers Wall Street from the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.

Wall Street