Continued political bickering in the United States is hurting stock and commodity prices and slowing spending by some U.S. holiday shoppers.
Oil was selling at below $89 a barrel Monday, as traders worried that an economic downturn could cut demand for energy. U.S. stocks were down in early trading, while European and Asian stocks were mixed at the close. A report Friday showed a decline in consumer confidence, which could hurt the consumer spending that drives most U.S. economic activity.
U.S. President Barack Obama, his Democratic Party allies in Congress and opposition Republicans are locked in a stalemate over spending and taxes. They are seeking an agreement on whether or not to raise taxes only on the rich and where and how much to cut spending by the end of this year. If they fail, some drastic across-the-board tax hikes and spending cuts go into effect automatically.
Many economists warn raising taxes and cutting spending will reduce demand in the U.S. economy and push it back into recession. An economic downturn in the world’s largest economy could hurt demand for products from the many nations that sell things to the United States, hurting their economies as well.