Stocks are edging lower for a fifth day on concern that Washington lawmakers will fail to reach a budget deal before a year-end deadline.
The Dow Jones industrial average slid 69 points to 13,027 shortly before midday Friday. It was down as much as 109 points earlier.
The Standard & Poor 500 index fell seven points to 1,411 and the Nasdaq dropped nine points to 2,978.
If stocks end lower, it will mark the longest losing streak in three months.
President Barack Obama has returned from a Christmas break in Hawaii and will meet with congressional leaders at the White House to try thrash out the terms of a deal that would prevent across-the-board tax increases for millions of Americans as well as simultaneous government spending cuts beginning Jan. 1.