NEW YORK Stocks around the world and the euro fell on Monday as investors expressed caution while awaiting the outcome of the latest round of talks to release emergency aid to keep Greece financially afloat.
A lack of progress in talks among U.S. lawmakers over how to avoid the harsh tax increases and government spending cuts due to start coming into effect January 1 also weighed on markets, with Wall Street following the global trend at the open. <.
Stocks, commodities and the euro zone single currency were steady or slightly weaker following strong gains seen over the past week as investors priced in the likelihood of a Greek deal.
"On the most pressing issue for the markets into year end, that of the tax and spending issues in the U.S., the Sunday morning talk shows didn't reveal that we're on the cusp of a deal as more horse trading will go on in the weeks to come," said Peter Boocvkar, managing director at Miller Tabak & Co in New York.
The Dow Jones industrial average was down 90.38 points, or 0.69 percent, at 12,919.30. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index was down 8.90 points, or 0.63 percent, at 1,400.25. The Nasdaq Composite Index was down 10.96 points, or 0.37 percent, at 2,955.89.
The MSCI world equity index, which gained nearly 4 percent over the week to November 23 for its biggest weekly gain since April, was down 0.3 percent to stand at 328.95.
"Last week was very good for the markets and it seems that investors are taking a breather ahead of the euro zone meeting," said Koen De Leus, senior economist at KBC in Brussels.
Euro zone finance ministers and the International Monetary Fund began their third meeting in as many weeks on Monday to try to seal a bailout deal for Greece but must still agree how to cut the country's debt pile to a more sustainable level.
The euro was last down 0.2 percent against the dollar.
(Reporting By Nick Olivari Additional reporting by Atul Prakash and Christopher Johnson in London; Editing by James Dalgleish)