US stocks fall as Obama begins fiscal cliff talks

<p>US stocks have retreated as Barack Obama holds talks on managing the fiscal cliff.</p>

The major US stock benchmarks have lost ground this afternoon (November 16th) as Barack Obama commences talks with Congress over how the world's largest economy is to avert disaster and the fiscal cliff.

Held at the White House, the president – who was re-elected last week for a further four years in office – is calling for higher earners in the US to pay more taxes.

The fiscal cliff would see a series of levies implemented during the George W Bush era expire at the same time as a number of across-the-board reductions to domestic and military expenditure.

This is due to hit the world's largest economy because Congress has so far failed to reach a deal on deficit reduction after a stand-off over the US debt ceiling in mid-2011.

Mr Obama stated: "My hope is this is going to be the beginning of a fruitful process that we're able to come to agreement."

At 16:50 GMT, the Dow Jones was 0.5 per cent lower to a value of 12477.6 and the Nasdaq retreated by 0.8 per cent to 2812.7 points.

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