News Summary: Stocks fall as 'fiscal cliff' nears
WATCHING WASHINGTON: Stocks fell for a fifth straight day as Wall Street watched Washington to see if talks between President Barack Obama and congressional leaders would yield a last-minute budget agreement.
NO NEW DEAL: Early declines accelerated late in the day after reports emerged that Obama would not be offering a revised budget deal.
HOME BUYING: An index that measures the number of Americans who signed contracts to buy homes increased last month to its highest level in two and a half years, adding to evidence that the housing market is recovering. The news failed to bolster stocks.