There was more weakness on global markets overnight, with US stocks climbing off the session lows as the government shutdown entered a second day.
Expectations for a quick resolution to the budget crisis were low amid concerns the government shutdown will last until the US is scheduled to hit its debt ceiling in two weeks.
However in a small glimmer of hope, President Obama and top Congressional leaders were scheduled to meet today for discussions on ending the standoff.
On the economic front, investors had to contend with data showing private payrolls rose less than expected last month, magnifying concerns over the state of the jobs market.
The Dow fell 59 points (-0.4%) to 15133, the Nasdaq dropped three points (-0.1%) to 3815 and the S&P500 slipped one point (-0.1%) to 1694.
It was a different story in commodity markets, with gold and oil enjoying strong gains after their recent sell-off.
Gold clawed back almost all of yesterday’s losses, finding support from renewed safe haven flows. Bullion soared 2.7% to US$1321 an ounce and oil jumped 2% to US$104.10 a barrel.
Greenback weakness was again the theme in currency markets, as traders speculated the Fed may delay the start date of stimulus tapering in light of the US budget uncertainty.
There is no major economic data due for release today.