Sept. 27 - Summary: The Dow suffers its first weekly decline of September as the U.S. government heads towards a fiscal showdown; BlackBerry abyss; J.C. Penney likely burning through cash. Conway G. Gittens reports.
Wall Street was jittery as Washington moves closer to a possible government shutdown next week. The Senate approved a measure that would keep the government running until November 15, without defunding the Affordable Care Act. The fight now heads back to the bitterly dividend House. With the two sides far apart the march towards the September 30th funding deadline gets scarier and scarier. With that in mind, stocks fell across the board, but finished above their worst levels of the day. Nervousness over the budget battle sent blue chips to their first weekly loss of the month. The Nasdaq, however, finished with a slight weekly bump. Things are as bad as warned at BlackBerry. The device maker lost nearly $1 billion last quarter as its new product line failed to reignite the company's fortunes. Revenues plunged 45 percent from the same time the year before. But there's another number catching investor attention. CEO Thorsten Heins could get as much as $55 million if BlackBerry is acquired. The person who helped put that pay package together is the same person who offered to buy BlackBerry earlier this week. Shares are still trading below that $9 offer price. J.C. Penney is another company that remains under scrutiny. The struggling retailer cut its forecast of how much cash it will have by the end of the year. It now has plans to raise up to $932 million in a share sale, a day after it said it did not need fresh capital, suggesting it is burning through cash faster than expected. Shares of JCP tumbling 13 percent to lows not seen since the beginning of the millennium. On to the economy now: Consumer sentiment hit a five-month bottom this month as shoppers worry about higher interest rates and lack of economic momentum. But a backward look from the government shows a jump in household spending in August thanks to higher wages. In Europe, stocks barely moved with investors wary of political uncertainties at home and abroad.