Investors, gradually coming to believe that policy makers will fail to reach a meaningful agreement to avert the so-called fiscal cliff before a year-end deadline, dumped stocks Friday in a selloff that put the blue-chip index into the red for the month.

Until the past few days, many investors appeared hopeful that officials in Washington would reach a last-minute accord that would prevent a package of tax increases and spending cuts from coming into effect. But as days have ticked by without resolution, markets have begun to wobble.


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