Another weak open on Wall Street, JC Penney slides

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks opened modestly lower on Wall Street toay as investors worried that political wrangling in Washington will push the economy back into recession.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 28 points to 12,780 shortly after the opening bell. The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 1 point to 1,376 and the Nasdaq composite edged up one point to 2,897.

The market is coming off its worst two-day slide in a year. The Dow average plunged 434 since President Barack Obama won re-election as investors turned their focus to a deadline at the end of the year for Congress to act on reducing the budget deficit.

If it doesn't, a series of drastic government spending cuts and tax hikes will kick into effect, potentially derailing the U.S. economy. The Congressional Budget Office said Thursday that the measures, if implemented, would likely push the economy back into recession.

The dimming outlook for Europe also weighed on markets this week. The European Commission, the executive arm of the European Union, slashed its forecast for economic growth in the region Wednesday.

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