Today's Primer

Wall Street sinking under weight of shutdown, debt ceiling

The ongoing government shutdown and the approaching debt ceiling deadline is clearly having an effect on investor sentiment, with both the Dow and the S&P 500 dropping in 10 of the past 13 sessions. The Dow is coming off its lowest close in a month, and has now given up just about half of its September gains.

The shutdown cancels two of August reports that were to be issued today, the trade deficit and the Job Opportunities and Labor Turnover (JOLTS) report. We will, however, get the monthly sentiment index from the National Federation of Independent Business at 7:30 a.m. ET.

We'll also get two lunchtime speeches from Fed officials, with Cleveland Fed President Sandra Pianalto and Philadelphia Fed President Charles Plosser scheduled for separate addresses on the economy and monetary policy.

The most prominent of today's earnings reports come after the closing bell, with former Dow component Alcoa (AA) and restaurant operator Yum Brands (YUM) scheduled to issue quarterly numbers.

Talisman Energy (TLM) is a stock to watch today, with investor Carl Icahn taking a nearly 6 percent stake in the Canadian oil and gas company. Icahn said on Twitter that he may have conversations with management about strategic alternatives and board seats.

Alcatel-Lucent (ALU) will cut 10,000 jobs worldwide by the end of 2015, with the telecommunications equipment maker aiming to save about $1.4 billion per year. (AMZN) received a favorable court ruling in a dispute with IBM (IBM) over a cloud computing services contract awarded to Amazon by the CIA. IBM said it would appeal the latest ruling, which upheld Amazon's contention that IBM should not be given another chance to bid for the contract.

Jamba (JMBA) is warning of a 3.4 percent drop in current quarter same-store sales, and the smoothie restaurant operator also estimated full year comp store sales to be flat to one percent higher. In 2012, Jamba had seen a 5.1 percent rise in same-store sales. CEO James White said he expected a challenging operating environment for the foreseeable future.

Tower Group (TWGP) said it expects to increase its loss reserves by $365 million, significantly higher than the insurance company had previously indicated. It is also taking a second quarter goodwill impairment charge of $215 million for the second quarter, and is reviewing a range of strategic options.

McKesson (MCK) is advanced talks to buy German drug distributor Celesio for more than $5 billion, according to Dow Jones. The report said a bid could be announced sometime this month.