Stocks: Little to cheer as holiday begins

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There won't be much for investors to cheer on Christmas eve, with little in the way of news to halt the recent slide for U.S. stocks.

U.S. stock futures were lower ahead of the open, following a broad decline in stocks Friday due to the gridlock in Washington talks aimed at avoiding the fiscal cliff.

Expect low trading volumes on Monday with markets in the U.S. closing at 1 p.m. for the holiday, which could cause some volatility.

Related: What happens to stocks if we go over fiscal cliff?

President Obama spoke about fiscal cliff negotiations Friday evening, before leaving for the holiday, urging a scaled back deal that would stop taxes from rising on 98% of Americans -- something both sides say they want.

But there is likely to be little progress on a deal Monday, with members of Congress at home for the Christmas holiday.

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Most federal offices and many businesses were closed on Monday. So there is nothing in the way of economic reports or corporate news scheduled for release.

European markets were steady in a shortened trading session, with markets in Germany closed. Italy's Mario Monti said at the weekend he may consider a second term as prime minister if asked by parties committed to the economic reforms he began over the past 12 months.

Asian markets ended slightly higher, while markets in Japan were closed.

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