Wall Street benchmarks subdued ahead of White House talks

<p>Wall Street closed low before Barack Obama scheduled the first in the last phase of fiscal cliff talks before the deadline.</p>

The major Wall Street benchmarks closed on a subdued note last night (December 27th) before Barack Obama announced he would be hosting the first in the final phase of fiscal cliff talks today before the January 1st deadline.

It is seen as critical the White House and Republican Party come to a consensus with regard to avoiding the full force of the tax hikes and spending cuts due to hit the world's largest economy when the new year begins.

Mr Obama cut short his Christmas break in Hawaii with his family in order to continue with the difficult talks – and some commentators are doubting both sides will be able to reach an agreement in time, risking undoing the recovery and plunging the nation back into recession.

Today's discussions will take place at 20:00GMT at the White House.

At close of play in New York last night, both the Dow Jones and Nasdaq slipped by 0.1 per cent to 13096.3 and 2985.9 points respectively.

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