The government is still shut down, and there's been little progress on raising the debt limit. But there was one bit of news from Washington that kept investors from dumping stocks again.
Janet Yellen's nomination as next chair of the Federal Reserve helped stabilize, if not necessarily excite, Wall Street. The Dow Jones industrial average and the S&P 500 ended modestly higher following two days of selling.
Though the broader market was up slightly, shares of many momentum stocks sank for a second day and weighed on the Nasdaq. Priceline(PCLN) and Facebook(FB) declined about 1%. Shares of Tesla(TSLA), Netflix(NFLX) and Green Mountain Coffee Roasters(GMCR) were down more than 3%.
Retailer Family Dollar(FDO) beat earnings forecasts, while revenue was roughly in line with estimates. But shares fell on a relatively weak outlook.
StockTwits user Lach14 noted that lackluster earnings from the three companies could be a sign of slumping consumer spending: "Earnings Not So Good: $YUM, $COST, $FDO, - Pattern emerging of strapped consumer - 3Q weak."
Shares of Hewlett-Packard(HPQ) jumped 9% after CEO Meg Whitman said she expects revenue to stabilize in 2014 during the company's annual meeting with analysts.
But traders were skeptical.
"$HPQ what exactly was said that was so bullish?" asked Vega_Man.
JustBelieve predicted a sharp reversal in the stock Thursday. "$HPQ This is going to drop like a rock tomorrow," he said.
Men's Wearhouse(MW) shares spiked even though the company's board rejected a $2.4 bid from smaller rival Jos. A. Bank Clothiers(JOSB), setting the stage for another nasty battle for the men's apparel retailer.