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Morning Market Movers: Last Day for 'Cliff' Deal -- How Are Markets Reacting?

Business

Here’s what’s shaking:

Stocks:

The stock market struggled for direction Monday morning after five days of losses, with the "fiscal cliff" just hours away and lawmakers yet to reach a solution.

The Dow Jones industrial average was down slightly, 24 points, to 12,914 after the first half-hour of trading. The Standard & Poor's 500 was up two points at 1,405. The Nasdaq composite index was up five to 2,965.

Many investors are unsure of what to do with their money as long as the "fiscal cliff" remains unsolved. That refers to higher taxes and government spending cuts that will kick in Tuesday if Republicans and Democrats can't hammer out a budget compromise by midnight Monday. Both sides had been hoping for a deal over the weekend, but negotiations were stop and go. Both the House and Senate were scheduled to meet again Monday, unusual for New Year's Eve.

Trading volume has also been light, with many investors still on vacation. With fewer shares trading hands, the market can be moved by relatively small trades. Last week, about 2.2 billion shares traded hands each day on average. Throughout the year, the average has been closer to 3.6 billion.

The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note rose to 1.73 percent from 1.70 percent late Friday.

Oil:

Oil prices were little changed Monday as a U.S. budget deadline neared with rival politicians still at odd over key issues.

Benchmark oil for February delivery was down 8 cents late morning London at $90.72 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell 7 cents to finish at $90.80 per barrel in New York on Friday.

The focus over the rest of the day will continue to focus on developments in Washington D.C. The Senate has to agree a deal by the end of Monday to avoid the so-called "fiscal cliff" of automatic tax increases and spending cuts.

In London, Brent crude, used to price various kinds of foreign oil, fell 43 cents to $110.19 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange.

Markets:

Follow Becket Adams (@BecketAdams) on Twitter

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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