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Weak Employment Data Weighs on Stocks

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Weak Employment Data Weighs on Stocks

Stocks in the US were on the defensive early on Wednesday, as the risk off trade trumped better than expected economic data. The large cap S&P 500 index closed near its highs despite trading on the defensive for most of the trading session. Although the shutdown of the US government did not seem to affect stocks on Tuesday, the longer the shutdown perpetuates, the greater the likelihood of future volatility. The debt ceiling is the next measure that will need to be wrestle with by fiscal brinkmanship, which could push the US off the fiscal cliff.

In corporate news, Internet retailer Staples, Inc. (NASDAQ:SPLS) has completed the acquisition of Runa, a software company based in San Mateo, Calif. Terms and conditions of the acquisition were not disclosed. The Runa facility in San Mateo will serve as the newest Staples Lab, following locations in Seattle and Cambridge.

Merck & Co. (NYSE:MRK) said it plans to reduce its 81,000 workforce by 20% over the next two years. The company also said it would close offices in New Jersey and discontinue some late stage drug development, all in the service of saving about $2.5 billion annually by 2015.

Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VM) and Turner Broadcasting System, Inc, have signed a long-term distribution agreement that will deliver content from Turner’s portfolio of networks to FiOS TV customers, across a variety of screens, including television, PC, tablet and handheld devices. The new agreement provides the more than 5 million Verizon FiOS TV subscribers with a range of content from Turner’s entertainment, kids, news, sports and young adult programming.

The only employment report likely for the week was the ADP private payroll report came in a 166K, compared to the 178K expected by economists. Manufacturing jobs increased by 1K while construction jobs increased by 16K. The service sector was the most influential coming in at 147K.

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