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Fiscal Cliff Worries Continue To Weigh On Wall Street - U.S. Commentary


With concerns about the looming fiscal cliff continuing to weigh on investor sentiment, stocks have come under pressure in early trading on Friday. The major averages have all moved to the downside, extending the downward move seen over the past week.

The major averages are currently posting notable losses, near their lows for the young session. The Dow is down 84.17 points or 0.6 percent at 13,012.14, the Nasdaq is down 16.61 points or 0.6 percent at 2,969.30 and the S&P 500 is down 9.75 points or 0.7 percent at 1,408.35.

The early weakness on Wall Street comes as traders are pessimistic about whether lawmakers in Washington will be able to reach an agreement to avoid the fiscal cliff.

President Barack Obama is scheduled to meet with Congressional leaders later in the day in an effort to reach a last-minute deal ahead of the year-end deadline.

Unless lawmakers reach an agreement, approximately $600 billion in automatic tax increases and government spending cuts are due to go into effect at the end of the year.

Conflicting headlines about the budget negotiations contributed to significant volatility on Wall Street in the previous session.

While pessimistic comments from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., pushed stocks sharply lower in morning trading on Thursday, the markets staged a recovery attempt after Republican leaders said the House will reconvene Sunday evening.

Oil service stocks have shown a notable move to the downside in early trading, dragging the Philadelphia Oil Service Index down by 1.4 percent. The weakness in the oil service sector comes despite an increase by the price of crude oil.

Networking, computer hardware, and natural gas stocks have also come under pressure, while most of the other major sectors are showing more modest moves.

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region moved to the upside during trading on Friday. Japan's Nikkei 225 Index rose 0.7 percent to its best closing level in well over a year, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index edged up by 0.2 percent.

Meanwhile, the major European markets have turned lower over the course of the trading day. While the French CAC 40 Index has fallen by 1 percent, the German DAX Index and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index are down by 0.6 percent and 0.5 percent, respectively.

In the bond market, treasuries are seeing modest strength, extending the upward move seen in the previous session. Subsequently, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, is down by less than a basis point at 1.706 percent.

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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