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NEW YORK, Dec 27 AFP

December 28 2012, 01:49AM

US stocks have edged lower as the deadline for the White House and Republican lawmakers to reach a deal to avert the looming "fiscal cliff" crisis creeps closer.

In the first five minutes of trade on Thursday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 2.09 points, or 0.02 per cent, at 13,112.50.

The broad-market S&P 500 edged down 0.78 points, or 0.05 per cent, to 1,419.05.

The tech-rich Nasdaq Composite lost 4.79 points, or 0.16 per cent, at 2,985.36.

The White House and Congress have until New Year's Eve 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 failure to strike a compromise could plunge the world's biggest economy into recession.

On Wednesday, the Dow was down 0.19 per cent, while the S&P 500 lost 0.48 per cent and the Nasdaq Composite shed 0.74 per cent.