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Dow edges lower as deadline looms

AFP-JIJI

Stocks dipped Thursday in the absence of a deal to avert the “fiscal cliff” crisis as an end-of-year deadline crept closer.

The Dow Jones industrial average finished the session down 18.28 points, or 0.14 percent, at 13,096.31. The broad-market S&P 500 slipped 1.73 points to end at 1,418.10, slipping 0.12 percent, while the Nasdaq shed 4.25 points, 0.14 percent, at 2,985.91.

Markets appeared bolstered by word that the House of Representatives will reconvene Sunday, raising hopes of an 11th-hour compromise to avert going off the fiscal cliff.

Traders were also digesting a sharp drop in consumer confidence in December, a key driver of the U.S. economy. In its monthly survey, the Conference Board said the index now stands at 65.1, compared to the downwardly revised 71.5 in November.

Shares of Toyota Motor Corp. climbed 2.4 percent after the firm said Wednesday it has agreed to pay around $1.1 billion to settle a class action lawsuit launched by U.S. vehicle owners affected by mass vehicle recalls.

Bond prices meanwhile rose. The 10-year U.S. Treasury yield fell to 1.72 percent from 1.76 percent late Wednesday, while the 30-year yield slipped to 2.9 percent from 2.93 percent. Bond prices and yields move inversely.

Europe’s main stock markets rose for the most part Thursday following a festive break and strong rally in Tokyo, with Paris reaching a year-to-date high. Traders, though, were still focused on whether the United States will avert its looming fiscal crisis.

London’s FTSE 100 index of leading stocks was stable at 5,954.30 points, Germany’s DAX 30 gained 0.26 percent to close at 7,655.88 points, while in Paris the CAC-40 added 0.59 percent to end at 3,674.26 points, its highest level of the year.

The Milan FTSE Mib index also gained 0.45 percent to 16,408 points, after Italy raised €8.5 billion ($11.2 billion) in a short-term debt auction.