Stocks flat, investors on edge over cliff

Gregg Maloney, left, and Ronnie Howard, center, both

Gregg Maloney, left, and Ronnie Howard, center, both of Barclays, direct trading on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange Thursday. Economists have said the United States risks slipping into recession if hundreds of billions of dollars in expiring tax cuts and automatic spending reductions take effect on Jan. 1. (Nov. 8, 2012) (Credit: AP )

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U.S. stocks closed nearly unchanged Monday, after a day of uneven trading plagued by investors' fears about the approaching fiscal cliff.

The Dow Jones industrial average finished down 0.31 point at 12,815.08, according to data available at 7 p.m..

The closing level of the Dow was revised several times after trading closed. The New York Stock Exchange had experienced a trading glitch during the day, forcing it to alter its normal procedure for determining the closing prices of some stocks.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index edged up 0.01 percent to 1,380.03. The Nasdaq composite fell 0.02 percent to 2,904.26.

Trading was very light. The federal government and the U.S. bond market were closed for Veterans Day, and no economic reports were released.

The fiscal cliff refers to government spending cuts and tax increases scheduled to kick in at the beginning of the new year unless a divided Congress and the White House can work out a compromise before then.

Even if lawmakers work out a compromise, as they usually do, the political fight until then is sure keep investors on edge, pitching the stock market back and forth until it's resolved. Economists say the cliff could plunge the U.S. back into recession.

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