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NEW YORK, Nov 16 AFP

November 17 2012, 09:58AM

US stocks snapped a three-day losing streak on Friday after political leaders signalled a determination to compromise to avoid sending the economy over the fiscal cliff.

Shares opened lower but took a jump upwards as the White House opened talks with congressional leaders on closing the deficit and averting the harsh tax hikes and spending cuts slated for January 1.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished up 45.93 points (0.37 per cent) at 12,588.31.

The broad-market S&P 500 added 6.55 points (0.48 per cent) at 1,359.88, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite shed 16.19 (0.57 per cent) at 2,853.13.

President Barack Obama met with congressional leaders from the Democratic and Republican parties to open crunch talks on pulling back from the fiscal cliff, with both sides stressing a willingness to find common ground and craft a long-term deficit reduction plan.

"There is no more, 'let's do it some other time,'" said Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid. "This isn't something we're going to wait until the last day of December to get it done."

"Markets, which have fallen very quickly, want to believe in an agreement" on the cliff, said Gregori Volokhine of Meeschaert New York.

Dell shares plunged 7.5 per cent to $8.84, the computer maker falling close to its 2009 post-crash low on weaker-than-expected results for the third quarter.

The company's numbers continued to show signs of assault from the boom in tablets, with third-quarter profit sliding 47 per cent from a year ago.

But Dell claimed its new strategy emphasising software and cloud computing was paying off.

Dell rival Hewlett-Packard meanwhile lost 1.8 per cent.

Apple shares, on a slide since September, fell nearly four per cent in early trade before rebounding for a 0.4 per cent gain at $527.68.

Bond prices were little-changed.

The 10-year US Treasury yield slipped to 1.57 per cent from 1.59 per cent on Thursday, while the 30-year rose was flat at 2.72 per cent.

Bond prices and yields move inversely.