Are investors concerned over market uncertainty?
''The news out of Washington has increased investor concerns that not only are the Republican and Democratic sides still unable to find agreement on the fiscal cliff, but that it looks unlikely Mr Boehner can even carry many of his colleagues with him should any deal be hammered out with the White House.
'A fiscal cliff resolution before 31 December remains unlikely in our view, and continued US political deadlock is likely to place further downward pressure on risk-sensitive assets into year end,' said analysts at Barclays in a note.
In a press conference on Friday, Mr Boehner said he would continue to work with President Barack Obama to try and reach a deal. These comments had little impact on the market.
Many equity benchmarks have trundled over recent weeks to multi-month highs -- the S&P 500 on Thursday closed only 20 points or so below its best level in nearly five years -- on signs of better traction in the US economy, waning eurozone sovereign debt tensions and the continued monetary support from many of the world's major central banks, such as the Federal Reserve's recent extension to its quantitative easing programme.
But investors are worried that this rosier scenario is in peril should the fiscal cliff's $600bn of tax hikes and spending cuts push the US into recession. Indeed, the issue is already affecting the national psyche, as shown by a sharp fall in the December reading of the University of Michigan's consumer confidence index.
Anxiety in the markets is all the greater because they are entering the festive period of staccato trading and thinning volumes, potentially amplifying swings in sentiment.''