I seem to recall during the depths of the European crisis, a time where markets breathed a sigh of relief that message boards and news wires were clean of any further posts that might taunt the markets into further despair. Gone are those days, and today’s reaction is a testament to a market craving some scrap of firm information. China and Japan are now increasingly voicing concerns over the deadlock in the US. Rather understandably given a vested interest in the matter to the tune of 2.3 trillion dollars of treasuries. If any further evidence was needed, it is yet another reminder of how costly this squabble could end up being to foreign relations as well as the Global economy. Investors will get a welcome distraction today with Alcoa kicking off U.S earnings season after the bell tonight. Earnings expectations have dropped in light of recent data, but hopefully figures will at least provide investors with some helpful guidance away from politics. Iron ore producer Ferrexpo have reported increases in production levels across the board for Q3. Total pellet production was up 4% at 2.8 million tonnes. The increase was sustained despite a drop in production at its Yeristovo Mining site, countered by growth at other sites and greater supply from 3rd parties. Chesnara plc have agreed to buy the closed domestic life insurance business at Direct Line for about £39.3 million. Chesnara have been busy picking up the pieces in the acquisition of a number of closed funds in the last year, with a focus in Britain and Switzerland. The move would be a welcome sale for Direct line, who have sought to cut costs this year to try and keep a strong foothold in an insurance industry under fire from comparison sites. The move seems to have the early backing of investors, with both stocks moving higher in early trade. Marks and Spencer’s stock slides for a second day running as a number of broker downgrades highlight the uphill struggle the firm has in winning back market share in the pivotal women’s fashion space. Cautious notes from Bernstein Deutsche and Credit Suisse, as well as figures from Kantar Worldpanel showing further losses in womenswear market share have piled further pressure on Chief Exec Marc Bolland as he attempts a strategic overhaul at the retailer. A final stock that will have one analyst at CMC ducking for cover is Ocado, I won’t remind everyone what price we sat at when the last bearish note went out, but let’s just say today’s 8% gains are not helping. He certainly won’t be the only person scratching his head as the firm stretches 2013 gains to 5 fold on questionable fundamentals though. CMC Markets is an execution only service provider. The material (whether or not it states any opinions) is for general information purposes only, and does not take into account your personal circumstances or objectives. Nothing in this material is (or should be considered to be) financial, investment or other advice on which reliance should be placed. No opinion given in the material constitutes a recommendation by CMC Markets or the author that any particular investment, security, transaction or investment strategy is suitable for any specific person.