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Budget battle continues to weigh on Wall Street


As the government moves closer to a possible shutdown, the S&P 500 is coming off its first five-day losing streak of 2013. The last one occurred at the end of 2012, when lawmakers were squabbling over the approaching fiscal cliff. However, stock index futures right now are pointing to a higher open.

It's a busy morning for economic reports, with two sets of numbers due at 8:30 a.m. ET. The Labor Department's weekly report on initial jobless claims is expected to show 330,000 new claims for the week ending September 21, up from 309,000 the prior week. We'll also get the final estimate of second quarter GDP, with economists looking for an annual growth rate of 2.8 percent, up from the 2.5 percent estimate issued a month ago.

At 10 a.m. ET, the National Association of Realtors is out with its look at August pending home sales, a measure of contracts signed but not yet closed. Consensus forecasts call for a 1.4 percent drop, following a 1.3 percent decline in July.

Also on the calendar today: the Energy Department issues its weekly assessment of natural gas inventories at 10:30 a.m. ET, while the Treasury will sell $29 billion in 7-year notes. The results of that sales will be available shortly after 1 p.m. ET.

Spice maker McCormick (MKC) is among the few companies set to report quarterly earnings this morning, while new Dow component Nike (NKE) and consulting firm Accenture (ACN) will be out with earnings after today's closing bell.

Jabil Circuit (JBL) is among our stocks to watch, with the contract manufacturer reporting fiscal fourth quarter profit of 56 cents per share, excluding certain items, two cents above estimates. Revenue was also above forecasts, but Jabil's first quarter projections are below analyst estimates. Jabil's future results are being impacted in part by its exposure to BlackBerry.

BlackBerry (BBRY) is in the news on several fronts: Fairfax Financial CEO Prem Watsa tells AP he fully intends to follow through on Fairfax's $4.7 billion deal to acquire the smart phone maker. Separately, T-Mobile U.S. (TMUS) will stop stocking BlackBerry handsets in its stores.

Bed Bath & Beyond (BBBY) reported second quarter profit of $1.16 per share, a penny above estimates, with revenue essentially in line with expectations. The home goods retailer has benefitted from the rebound in the U.S. housing market.

Citigroup (C) has struck an agreement with Freddie Mac, and will pay the agency $395 million to resolve any future claims over mortgage repurchases.

Campbell Soup (CPB) raised its quarterly dividend to 31.2 cents per share from 29 cents, an increase of 7.6 percent.

Caesars Entertainment (CZR) announced a secondary common stock offering of 10 million shares.

Nokia (NOK) is reportedly discussing whether to approach rival Alcatel-Lucent (ALU) about a possible alliance, once Nokia's deal to sell its handset business to Microsoft (MSFT) is complete. Reuters reports no formal talks with Alcatel are underway as yet.

J.C. Penney (JCP) is seeking to raise as much as $1 billion in new equity to build up cash reserves ahead of the holiday season, according to a Reuters report.

Barclays (BCS) will stop offering wealth management services in about 130 countries by 2016, as well as cut jobs in that unit.

Dun & Bradstreet (DNB), Kroll Background America, and LexisNexis all said they were victims of cyber attacks. The FBI is investigating those breaches, which are said to be linked to a cybercrime ring that sells stolen personal data.