Just before the Christmas break, investors are still faced with the prospect of a federal budget for 2013 with a net negative $500 billion adjustment that kicks in Jan. 1, if lawmakers in Washington do not reach a compromise agreement before then.
House members went home Thursday after a plan proposed by House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, did not garner enough support for a vote.
By close of trading in a holiday-shortened trading session, the Dow Jones industrial average lost 51.76 points or 0.39 percent to 13,139.08. The Nasdaq lost 8.41 points or 0.28 percent to 3,012.60.
The Standard & Poor's 500 shed 3.49 points or 0.24 percent to 1,426.66.
In the shortened session, 1,195 shares advanced and 1,786 declined on a volume of 1.2 billion shares traded.
The 10-year treasury note was off 2/32 to yield 1.777 percent.
Against the yen, the dollar was higher at 84.84 from Friday's 84.24. The euro fell to $1.3187 from $1.3189.
In London, the FTSE 100 index added 0.24 percent, 14.19 points, to 5,954.18.