US stocks opened lower Wednesday, amid concerns that politicians will not act to avoid looming tax hikes and spending cuts expected to jolt the economy into recession.
In the first five minutes of trade, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 56.48 points (0.44 percent) at 12,821.65.
The S&P 500-stock index dropped 7.87 (0.56 percent) to 1,391.07, while the Nasdaq Composite shed 15.55 (0.52 percent) at 2,952.24.
"Following the solid losses yesterday amid an afternoon flare-up in uncertainty regarding a meaningful resolution of the US fiscal cliff, losses for the equity markets are continuing... ahead of a key housing report and the Federal Reserve's Beige Book," Charles Schwab & Co. analysts said.
On Tuesday, the Dow and the S&P 500 fell for the second day in a row, with the S&P broad-market index down 0.5 percent.