With just over an hour to the close, the Dow was on its lows, trading down 136 points or 0.9%, while the S&P 500 and NASDAQ also slumped. Trading has been choppy, subject to news breaking from Washington, and the latest development has not been positive.
Senator Dick Durbin said that Senate talks have been put on hold until House Republicans can finalise their fiscal plans.
This dashes hopes that the Senate was on the verge of putting together a bill with bi-partisan backing. Effectively, negotiations have fallen apart with little time left to spare, following House Republicans' attempt to put together a competing draft plan, essentially rebelling at the idea of a Senate-led solution.
White House spokesperson Jay Carney summed it up with his comment that ‘we’re far from a deal at this point.’
President Obama is set to meet with House Democratic leaders at 8.15pm BST.
We are in the thick of the earnings season, with Intel and Yahoo reporting after the close this evening, but this is unlikely to stop Washington's current dominance over the financial markets. Intel is expected to report earnings of 53 cents per share, while Yahoo is expected to have profits of 27 cents per share.