* "Fiscal cliff" talks stalled until after holiday
* Equity markets to close early, light volume expected
* Indexes off: Dow 0.29 pct, S&P 0.27 pct, Nasdaq 0.26 pct
(Updates to open)
By Chuck Mikolajczak
NEW YORK, Dec 24 U.S. stocks slipped on Monday,
with the S&P 500 extending losses after its worst drop since
mid-November in the prior session on continued worry legislators
will be unable to reach a deal to avert the "fiscal cliff."
The benchmark S&P index declined 0.9 percent on
Friday, its biggest percentage drop since Nov. 14, as a
Republican plan to avoid the cliff - $600 billion in tax hikes
and spending cuts that could tip the U.S. economy into recession
- failed to gain any traction on Thursday night.
But the index remains up more than 13 percent for the year,
having recovered nearly all the losses suffered in the wake of
the U.S. elections.
Some U.S. lawmakers expressed concern on Sunday the country
would go over the cliff, as some Republicans charged that was
President Barack Obama's goal. Talks are stalled with Obama and
House of Represenatives Speaker John Boehner out of Washington
for the holidays.
"It does seem like we are continuing through the same drift
of the same thing we've had the past couple of weeks - cliff
talk," said Nick Scheumann, wealth partner at Hefty Wealth
Partners in Auburn, Indiana.
"They will get together is the bigger thing and in the back
of everyone's mind they believe that, it's just that you can't
trade on what you don't know and we truly don't know what they
are going to do."
Congress is expected to return to Washington next Thursday
as Obama returns from a trip to Hawaii. As the deadline draws
closer, a 'stop-gap' deal appears to be the most likely outcome
of any talks.
The Dow Jones industrial average dropped 38.15
points, or 0.29 percent, to 13,152.69. The Standard & Poor's 500
Index lost 3.89 points, or 0.27 percent, to 1,426.26. The
Nasdaq Composite Index fell 7.96 points, or 0.26
percent, to 3,013.05.
Trading volumes are expected to be muted, with U.S. equity
markets scheduled to close at 1 p.m. (1800 GMT) ahead of the
Christmas holiday on Tuesday.
In addition, a number of European markets will operate on a
shortened session, with other markets closed entirely.
U.S. retailers may not see a sales surge this weekend as
ho-hum discounts and fears about imminent tax hikes and cuts in
government spending give Americans fewer reasons to open their
wallets in the last few days before Christmas.
Aegerion Pharmaceuticals Inc said the U.S. Food and
Drug Administration approved Juxtapid capsules in patients with
homozygous familial hypercholesterolemia, but will conduct a
post-approval study to test long-term safety and efficacy.
Shares were fell 3.4 percent to $24.85.
Herbalife Ltd dipped 0.7 percent to $27.05 in
premarket after the company said it expects to exceed its
previously announced repurchase authorization guidance and has
retained Moelis & Company as its strategic advisor. The declines
put the stock on track for a ninth straight decline.
Yum Brands Inc advanced 1.2 percent to $64.66 after
Shanghai's food safety authority said the level of antibiotics
and steroids in the company's KFC chicken was within official
(Reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)