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NEW YORK, Dec 26 AFP

December 27 2012, 09:02AM

US stocks have closed lower amid uncertainty about whether a deal to avert the "fiscal cliff" could be reached by an end-of-year deadline.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 24.42 points (0.19 per cent) to 13,114.6 in closing trade on Wednesday.

The broad-market S&P 500 lost 6.81 points (0.48 per cent) at 1,491.85, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite shed 22.44 points (0.74 per cent) at 2,990.15.

The White House and Congress have until the end of the month to reach a compromise on how to avert a year-end crisis that could lead to stiff tax hikes and drastic budget cuts.

Experts say a plunge over the so-called "fiscal cliff" could take the world's biggest economy back into recession.