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NEW YORK, Dec 27 AFP

December 28 2012, 08:43AM

US stocks have closed lower in the absence of a deal to avert a "fiscal cliff" crisis as an end-of-year deadline looms.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 19.74 points (0.15 per cent) to 13,094.85 in closing trade on Thursday.

The broad-market S&P 500 lost 1.8 points (0.13 per cent) at 1,418.03, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite shed 4.25 points (0.14 per cent) at 2,985.90.

Washington has until the end of the month to reach a compromise on how to avert a crisis that could lead to stiff tax hikes and drastic budget cuts.

But with just days to go, a deal remains elusive.

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