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Fiscal cliff whipsaws stocks

Dec. 28, 2012 @ 12:00 AM

NEW YORK -- The "fiscal cliff" took the stock market on a roller coaster Thursday. Small developments in the tense budget standoff yanked stocks back and forth throughout the day.

In the end, U.S. stocks closed lower for the fourth day in a row, sending the unwelcome message that the budget standoff is still far from solved, the economy still far from healed.

The erratic performance underscored how the "fiscal cliff" can yank the market back and forth. The term refers to automatic tax increases and government spending cuts that will kick in next week if Republicans and Democrats can't reach a budget agreement by Monday night.

At the close, stocks trimmed their losses but still closed lower. The Dow finished down 18.28 points to 13,096.31. The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 1.73 to 1,418.10. The Nasdaq composite index lost 4.25 to 2,985.91.

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