Stocks fall on "fiscal cliff", Europe debt worry
By Ellen Freilich
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Stock markets fell on Wednesday as investors waited for progress in approving aid for Greece and in averting potential U.S. fiscal constraint in early 2013.
The euro, meanwhile, gained against both the dollar and the yen. Elections in Japan are set for next month, and the main opposition party favors further monetary easing.
In the United States stock indexes fell despite strong earnings reported by technology bellwether Cisco and two retail chains.
Investors are wary of the impact tax hikes and severe spending cuts would have on the U.S. economy if President Barack Obama and Congress fail to agree on a plan to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff.
Though Greece is expected to secure short-term funding to meet its debt obligations, international lenders disagree over how Athens can cut its borrowing to more sustainable levels. A deal to release aid payments remains a way off.
The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI was down 60.96 points, or 0.48 percent, at 12,695.22. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index .SPX was down 5.96 points, or 0.43 percent, at 1,368.57. The Nasdaq Composite Index .IXIC was down 6.16 points, or 0.21 percent, at 2,877.73.
Still, the release of minutes from the last Federal Open Market Committee meeting later in the session is likely to confirm an easy monetary policy bias for some time to come. .N
Meanwhile, a wave of strikes across Europe to protest against spending cuts and tax hikes kept the focus on that region's debt crisis. Continued...