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US stocks lower as fiscal cliff looms

Dec 20 2012 07:41 AFP


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New York - US stocks skidded lower on Wednesday as market sentiment soured less than two weeks before the United States risks going over the fiscal cliff.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished the session down 98.99 points to 13,251.97.

The broad-market S&P 500 dropped 10.98 points to end at 1,435.81, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite lost 10.17 points to 3,044.36.

"Stocks fell under the weight of continued disagreement on resolution to the fiscal cliff," said analysts with Charles Schwab & Co.

Washington has until the end of the month to reach a deal to avert the so-called fiscal cliff, a series of tax hikes and spending cuts that are due to take effect in January and could plunge the world's biggest economy into recession.

US President Barack Obama said on Wednesday he and Republicans had narrowed differences over how to avoid the "cliff" to "a few hundred million dollars." However, a year-end deal remains elusive.

Automaker General Motors rose 6.6% on word the Treasury Department would sell its investment in the US automaker, a stake it bought as part of a government bail-out of the auto industry, over the next 12 to 15 months.

FedEx, the global delivery company, edged up 0.9% after posting a net second quarter income of $438m, down 12% from last year's $497m.

Amgen dropped 0.9%. The pharmaceutical giant has pleaded guilty to illegally introducing a mislabeled drug for treating anemia onto the market and will pay a record $762m fine, US officials said earlier Wednesday.

Investors also had their eyes on Bank of America, which was among the most active stocks traded. It lost 1.50%.

Bond prices rose. The 10-year US Treasury yield fell to 1.80 from 1.83% late on Tuesday, while the 30-year dipped slightly to 2.98 from 3.0%.

Bond prices and yields move inversely.

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