Dow Falls Again With All Eyes on Washington

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Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over daily movements, we do like to keep an eye on market changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.

Washington worries were back on Wall Street today, with only three days remaining until the government will shut down if a stopgap funding measure is not passed. The concerns pushed stocks down for the duration of the session, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average finished with a loss of 70 points, or 0.5%.

Today, the Senate sent back the House bill that would keep the government's lights on, but it removed the House's Obamacare-defunding language. Tea Party House members have refused to pass the bill with the health-care law still intact. With the ball back in the House's court, the fate of the bill now rests in the hands of Speaker John Boehner, who is believed to have enough votes in his chamber to pass the bill with Obamacare funded. Doing so, however, may provoke a revolt from the more conservative wing of his party. Boehner will meet at noon tomorrow with House Republicans to decide on a strategy. Among other problems, a government shutdown would prevent the release of several economic reports that investors rely on, including next Friday's highly anticipated jobs figures.

Returning to the economy, the day's reports were mostly favorable, as personal income and spending were up 0.4% and 0.3, respectively, in August, or 0.1% better than expectations. Meanwhile, the University of Michigan showed September's consumer confidence rating at 77.5, better than expectations of 77.3, and up from this month's first estimate of 76.8.

A strong earnings report by Nike last night led the apparel-maker's shares up 4.7%, as the company saw revenue move up 7.7%, and earnings per share jump 38%, to $0.86, well ahead of estimates at $0.78. Sales in North America and Europe were particularly strong, improving near 10%, while China struggled as revenue dropped 3%, due, in part, to cheaper competitors moving into the market.

Elsewhere, Intel was down 1.8% as reports revealed the chipmaker was looking for a partner to help with its Internet video service, which launch by the end of the year as the company had hoped. With its PC business drying up, the tech company is anxious to enter new industries, but it has not yet announced any deals with the content providers whose help it would need to jump into the ever-crowded home-entertainment space. Tech companies often have trouble transitioning from one paradigm to the next, and Intel seems to be at a crucial crossroads, as its profits fall, and PC sales decline.

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Fool contributor Jeremy Bowman owns shares of Nike. The Motley Fool recommends Intel and Nike. The Motley Fool owns shares of Intel and Nike. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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