Stocks sank for most of the day after more signs of tension emerged in the US budget talks. They recovered some after a report that the president and the ouse speaker — he said the White House was so resistant to cutting spending that it risked pushing the country off the fiscal cliff — would meet late Thursday. The decline in stocks came despite a fourth straight weekly drop in applications for jobless benefits. Energy, health care, and tech stocks fell the most. David Steinberg, at DLS Capital, said it was natural for the market to pause after its run-up in recent weeks. He doubts the cliff will be a ‘grand event’ for the market.