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Automatic spending cuts will take effect at midnight

WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House says automatic spending reductions set to kick in will be put off until as close to midnight Friday as possible.

The law, passed by Congress on Jan. 2 simply says that ‘‘on March 1, 2013, the president shall order a sequestration for fiscal year 2013.’’ That’s budget talk for an $85 billion reduction in defense and domestic spending between now and Oct. 1.

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Obama can issue that order at any point in the day.

And White House press secretary Jay Carney says that means midnight, Friday — or as close to midnight as possible: 11:59 p.m. and 59 seconds.

Because, Carney says, Obama remains ‘‘ever hopeful.’’

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