Investors nervous as debt ceiling deadline approaches

U.S. stock index futures are pointing to a triple-digit loss for the Dow at the open, as the government shutdown enters a third week, and with no agreement to end the shutdown or the debt ceiling issue in sight. The Dow and S&P 500 did manage to break two-week losing streaks last week, although the Nasdaq had its first losing week in five.

Although the stock market will be open today, the bond market will be closed for the Columbus Day holiday. There are no economic releases on the calendar today, nor any earnings releases of note.

Microsoft (MSFT) is a stock to watch today, as a Wall Street Journal article details divided opinion on who should succeed Steve Ballmer as CEO. The paper said at least two Microsoft executives and at least eight outside candidates have been approached to see if they are interested in the post.

Netflix (NFLX) is in talks with several cable companies about possible inclusion of the video service through set top boxes, according to the Journal. Comcast (CMCSA) and Suddenlink Communications are among those said to be involved in the talks.

Alcatel-Lucent (ALU) was upgraded to "overweight" from "equal-weight" at Barclays. The telecom equipment maker recently announced a sizable restructuring plan that involves hundreds of job cuts, but is being pressured by the French government to limit those cuts.

Merck (MRK) was downgraded to "market perform" from "outperform" at Bernstein, a week after announcing it would cut 8,500 jobs.

Barclays (BCS) will provide Detroit with up to $350 million in debtor-in-possession financing, as the city works its way through the bankruptcy process.