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Stock futures drop as Washington debt deadlines approach

By Rodrigo Campos

NEW YORK | Friday, 27 Sep 2013

(Reuters) – U.S. stock index futures fell on Friday as deadlines loomed for a political agreement in Washington that would keep the U.S. government running and avoid a debt default, with no clear solution in sight.

U.S. House of Representatives Republicans refused on Thursday to give in to President Barack Obama’s demand for straightforward bills to run the government beyond September 30 and to increase borrowing authority to avoid a historic default.

The Republican-controlled House and the Democratic Senate are bouncing back bills, with each party anxious to pin the responsibility for any economic damage on the other.

Investors are concerned about the implications of a shutdown and possible default on the struggling economic recovery.

“Concerns about a government shutdown are starting to create some tension and hesitation approaching the weekend,” said Andre Bakhos, managing director at Janlyn Capital LLC in Bernardsville, New Jersey.

“Until there’s greater visibility, the market is going to be choppy and erratic.”

Several Federal Reserve officials are due to speak on Friday, and markets will peruse their remarks with interest due to uncertainty over the immediate future of the Fed’s stimulus program. They include Boston Fed President Eric Rosengren, who will speak in New York at 8:30 a.m. (1230 GMT), and New York Fed President William Dudley, who will speak on the economy in Syracuse, New York at 2:00 p.m. (1800 GMT).

Chicago Fed President Charles Evans said the Fed could start reducing its asset purchases this year based on economic forecasts but the decision to wind back stimulus could be pushed into next year.

Data on tap include the Commerce Department’s personal income and consumption data for August at 8:30 a.m. (1230 GMT) and the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan Surveys of Consumers September consumer sentiment index at 9:55 a.m. (1355 GMT).

S&P 500 futures fell 8 points, dropping below fair value, a formula that evaluates pricing by taking into account interest rates, dividends and time to expiration on the contract. Dow Jones industrial average futures fell 48 points, and Nasdaq 100 futures lost 12 points.

J.C.Penney (JCP.N) announced the pricing of its public offering of 84 million common shares priced at $9.65 per share. The stock fell 8 percent in premarket trading.

Nike Inc (NKE.N) shares jumped 7.1 percent in premarket trading a day after the maker of sports clothes and shoes reported a stronger-than-expected quarterly profit.

(Editing by Theodore d’Afflisio and Bernadette Baum)