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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.

    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.’’