President Barack Obama spoke at the White House Wednesday and said he was willing to work with House Republicans and Senate Democrats to avoid the $607 billion in automatic tax increases and spending cuts, or "the fiscal cliff," due to hit on Jan. 1.
But he also reiterated a pledge to not preserve Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, sticking by a goal to pull in $1.6 trillion in new revenue through tax hikes on households generating incomes of more than $250,000.
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"The two parties have very different visions of what a deal should look like. Failure to reach a compromise in the coming weeks could lead to a recession and bear market for stocks in early 2013," said Frank Fantozzi, president at Planned Financial Services.The Census Bureau said Wednesday retail sales fell 0.3% in October, more than the 0.2% decline expected by economists, after increasing by an upwardly revised 1.3% in September. Excluding motor vehicles, retail sales were unchanged; economists had forecast an increase of 0.2%. "October's U.S. retail sales figures suggest that consumption has lost a bit of momentum ahead of the crucial holiday shopping season," said Paul Dales, senior U.S. economist at Capital Economics. "Even after excluding sales of gasoline, autos and building materials, underlying sales fell by 0.1%