US stocks fell Friday ahead of fresh talks to resolve the "fiscal cliff" crisis as a New Year's Eve deadline loomed.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 88.45 points (0.68 percent) at 13,007.86 about an hour into trade.
The broad-market S&P 500 lost 9.23 points (0.65 percent) to 1,408.87, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite shed 13.36 points (0.45 percent) at 2,972.54.
US President Barack Obama will host top congressional leaders Friday afternoon in an 11th-hour bid to halt America's fall over the so-called fiscal cliff, a series of steep tax hikes and spending cuts that are set to kick in from January 1.
Experts say going over the cliff could take the world's biggest economy into recession.
"Hopes for a budget agreement prior to January 1 are fading," said Briefing.com's Dick Green. "Uncertainty remains very high and time very short."
While largely focused on political wrangling in Washington, markets also took in a third straight month of increases in pending home sales.
Stocks in focus included Hewlett-Packard, which dropped 2.3 percent. On Thursday, the tech giant divulged that US authorities were probing its accounting fraud allegations against Autonomy, a British software firm it bought out.
On November 20, HP reported a writedown of $8.8 billion, including more than $5 billion it attributed to inflated data from Autonomy, acquired by HP in 2011 for more than $10 billion.
Apple lost 0.8 percent after it was ordered to pay compensation to eight Chinese writers and two companies for selling unlicensed books online.
Facebook lost 1.5 percent amid reports that its Instagram service may have lost a quarter of its users due to new rules on its service.
Bond prices rose. The 10-year US Treasury yield slipped to 1.70 from 1.72 percent late Thursday, while the 30-year edged lower to 2.87 percent from 2.89 percent. Bond prices and yields move inversely.