The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Business

December 28, 2012

Stocks open lower as ’fiscal cliff’ deadline nears

NEW YORK — Stocks are heading lower for a fifth day on concern that Washington lawmakers will fail to reach a budget deal before a year-end deadline.

The Dow Jones industrial average slid 104 points to 12,992 in the first 40 minutes of trading Friday. The Standard & Poor 500 index fell 10 points to 1,408 and the Nasdaq dropped 19 points to 2,966.

If stocks end the day lower, it will mark the longest losing streak in three months.

President Barack Obama has returned from a Christmas break in Hawaii and will meet with congressional leaders at the White House to try thrash out the terms of a deal that would prevent across-the-board tax increases for millions of Americans as well as simultaneous government spending cuts beginning Jan. 1. Those measures, if implemented, could push the economy back into recession, economists say.

Stocks closed lower Thursday but erased most of an early loss after Republicans said they would reconvene the House of Representatives Sunday in hopes of piecing together a last-minute budget deal.

Despite the fiscal gridlock in Washington, major stock indexes are holding on to gains for the year. The Dow is up 6.5 percent, the S&P 500 index is 12 percent higher and the Nasdaq is up 14 percent.

Stocks rose in 2012 on optimism that a housing market recovery, coupled with an improving job market, will support economic growth. The Federal Reserve has also extended its bond purchasing program, which is intended to lower borrowing costs and encourage spending and investment.

Bond prices rose as investors moved money into defensive investments. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note fell to 1.70 percent from 1.75 percent late Thursday.

Energy stocks fell the most of the 10 industry groups in the S&P 500 index, dropping 1.2 percent. All 10 categories were lower in early trading.

Among stocks making moves:

Hewlett-Packard fell 35 cents to $13.71 after the computer and printer maker said the Department of Justice is investigating H-P’s business software unit Autonomy. H-P bought Autonomy for $10 billion in 2011 and has accused the company’s former management of fudging its accounting before the acquisition. H-P has lost almost half its market value this year, making it the biggest decliner among the 30 stocks in the Dow average.

 

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