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Stocks falling ... Pending home sales numbers ... Banks doing better

Friday - 12/28/2012, 12:30pm  ET

NEW YORK (AP) -- Stocks are lower on Wall Street as investors worry about the fallout from the budget impasse. The market is on track for its fifth consecutive decline as it seems less likely the White House and lawmakers will be able to reach a budget deal before the year-end deadline. If stocks end the day lower, it will mark the longest losing streak in three months.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Barack Obama is scheduled to meet with top congressional leaders this afternoon in a last-ditch effort to avoid the fiscal cliff. There's no sign a budget deal will be reached before the end of year deadline.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- There's another sign this morning the once-battered housing market is on the way back. The National Association of Realtors says pending home sales rose last month to its highest level in two and a half years. The sales index rose 1.7 percent to 106.4 -- the highest mark since April 2010, when a homebuyer tax credit caused a spike in sales.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The banking industry is strengthening. Banks are closing the year with their best profits since 2006 and fewer failures than at any time since the 2008 financial crisis. They're helping support an economy slowed by high unemployment, flat pay, sluggish manufacturing and anxious customers.

PARIS (AP) -- Europeans are finding fewer reasons to pop open a bottle of Champagne -- even in France, which drinks twice as much of the sparkling wine per person than the United States. According to CIVIC, the national association of growers and producers of Champagne, sales were down 4.9 percent in France and 5 percent elsewhere in the European Union compared to 2011.

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