The Dow is closing down 249 points as a congressional committee appears close to admitting defeat on its deficit-cutting task.

The group was supposed to reduce the deficit by $1.2 trillion over the next decade. Its apparent failure signals that Washington remains gridlocked over crucial fiscal issues.

The stalemate might trigger harsh spending cuts and could cause another downgrade of the nation's credit rating. It also appears less likely that Congress will extend a payroll tax cut and unemployment benefits.

The Dow fell 2.1 percent to 11,547 Monday. The S&P closed down 23 points, or 2 percent, at 1,193. The Nasdaq lost 49, or 1.9 percent, to 2,523.

Five stocks fell for every one that rose on the New York Stock Exchange. Volume was below average at 4 billion shares.

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