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Stocks down...Crude drops... Late shoppers seeing big bargains

Monday - 12/24/2012, 6:50pm  ET

UNDATED (AP) -- Stocks are down on concern that lawmakers will run out of time to reach a budget deal before year-end. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 52 points to close at 13,139 today in a shortened holiday trading session. The S&P 500 fell three points to 1,427. The Nasdaq composite dropped 8 points to close at 3,013. Stocks closed early today before Christmas.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Lawmakers are increasingly skeptical about a possible deal to avoid the looming "fiscal cliff," and some predict the best possibility would be a small-scale patch because time is running out before the yearend deadline. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison says she expects "it is going to be a patch because in four days we can't solve everything."

NEW YORK (AP) -- Crude oil futures prices have ended lower on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The near-month contract for the benchmark grade fell 5 cents today -- closing at $88.61 a barrel.

NEW YORK (AP) -- Shoppers who have waited until the final days before Christmas are being rewarded with big bargains and lighter crowds. Analysts expect growth from last year to be modest. On Christmas Eve, Mall operator, Taubman Centers, reports a "very strong weekend." But many shoppers are spending less than they did last year, and taking advantage of big discounts that hurt stores' profits.

ATLANTA (AP) -- Three Atlanta-area counties have filed a lawsuit claiming that British bank HSBC cost them hundreds of millions of dollars in extra expenses and damage to their tax bases by aggressively signing minorities to housing loans that were likely to fail. Fulton, DeKalb and Cobb counties say the foreclosure crisis was the "foreseeable and inevitable result" of irresponsible loan practices.

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