Stocks inch lower as investors wait on budget

Stocks were little changed as investors closely watched while lawmakers in Washington jockeyed at thrashing out a budget deal. Congress and the White House have been negotiating over the so-called fiscal cliff, sharp government spending cuts and tax increases scheduled to start Jan. 1 unless a deal is reached to cut the budget deficit. ‘Right now the market is just going to be held hostage,’ said one chief investment officer. The Commerce Department reported that consumer spending dropped 0.2 percent in October, down from an increase of 0.8 percent in September and the weakest showing since May.