'Fiscal cliff' rally fizzles, stocks slump

Speaker of the House John Boehner explains a

Speaker of the House John Boehner explains a Republican Plan B created, he said, to solve the country's budget crisis. With him at announcement late Tuesday are, from left, House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor. Gains in U.S. markets flattened Wednesday as investors puzzled over Plan B. (Dec. 18, 2012) (Credit: Getty Images)

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Stocks dipped Wednesday, recording their first loss of the week. President Barack Obama and Republicans in Congress sniped at each other, and a deadline to avoid sweeping tax increases and government spending cuts drew closer.

General Motors stock surged after the government announced plans to sell its ownership stake in the company.

The Dow Jones industrial average closed down 98.99 points, or 0.7 percent, at 13,251.97. The Standard & Poor's 500 index dropped 10.98 points, or 0.8 percent, to 1,435.81. The Nasdaq composite index fell 10.17, or 0.3 percent, to 3,044.36.

Obama said that he and House Speaker John Boehner were "pretty close" to a deal to avoid the tax increases and spending cuts, a combination known as the "fiscal cliff." The two sides have exchanged proposals this week.

But the president also said that congressional Republicans keep finding "ways to say no as opposed to finding ways to say yes." He said the nation deserves compromise in the aftermath of the Connecticut school shooting.

Boehner, speaking to reporters for less than a minute and in a defiant tone, called on Obama to offer a deficit-cutting plan balanced between spending cuts and tax increases.

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