Stocks Sink on Pessimism Over Fiscal Cliff

Fiscal-cliff talks have once again grabbed the market's attention and pulled stocks lower today. Ben Bernanke's comments yesterday that the fiscal cliff was already impacting business wasn't a surprise, but it did confirm the sentiment about the cliff. And comments from House Speaker John Boehner today gave investors reason to think a deal won't be reached by New Year. Near the end of trading, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) has fallen 0.71%, while the S&P 500 (SNPINDEX: ^GSPC  ) is down 0.81%.

The biggest losers aren't the usual suspects like bank stocks or construction-related stocks, which usually fall on bad economic news. They're actually some of the most diversified companies on the market.

3M (NYSE: MMM  ) has fallen 0.9%, Disney (NYSE: DIS  ) is down 1.4%, and Procter & Gamble (NYSE: PG  ) is down more than 1%. These stocks are heavily tied to general GDP growth, not just sector-specific growth, so the fact that they're leading the Dow lower shows just how investors are feeling today.

And there seems to be no safe haven for the time being. Gold is down 1.3% to less than $1,700 an ounce. Gold has been the commodity of choice for investors fearing economic downturn in the U.S., and we may be seeing the shiny metal losing its luster with investors. Oil has fallen 0.9% today, helping to drive energy stocks lower.

The fiscal cliff will continue to dominate day-to-day news in the coming weeks, as there is little earnings news due out until the New Year. That could lead to more up-and-down days like we saw yesterday and today, so prepare yourself for a rollercoaster ride.

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