Dec. 27 - Summary of business headlines: Wall Street holds breath over 'fiscal cliff'; Consumer confidence hits four-month low; Weekly jobless claims drop; New homes sales rebound; Toyota pays over $1b in settlement; Apple's chief takes huge paycut. Jeanne Yurman reports.
VIDEO REFEED: ARROW IN THE EUROPEAN STOCKS GRAPHIC FOR FTSE100 WAS CORRECTED FROM DOWN TO UP. A resolution on the fiscal cliff continues to be an increasingly dicey prospect -forcing Wall Street to the sidelines. Stocks closed lower for a fourth day an a row.system.scripts. Harry Reid, top Democrat in the Senate and a key player in policy negotiations said Thursday it looks like we're going over that cliff with only three days to avert year-end tax increases and spending cuts. Gary Townsend of Hill-Townsend Capital echoes Reid: SOUNDBITE: GARY TOWNSEND, PRESIDENT AND CEO, HILL-TOWNSEND CAPITAL, (ENGLISH) SAYING; "I think a cliff dive is almost certain -that Congress, the Senate, the House and the President can't resolve the 'fiscal cliff' before the end of the year." As the December 31st deadline approaches a new Reuters/Ipsos poll shows that Americans blame Republicans more than Democrats for the current impasse. Piled on top of of the fiscal cliff saga, consumer confidence sagged this month. The Conference Board's index of consumer attitudes plunged to a four-month low. The mess in Washington sapped what had been a growing sense of optimism about the economy. Weekly jobless claims, however, dropped by 12,000 to 350,000. A four and a half year low suggesting a possible pick up in hiring. And new home sales rebounded to a high not seen in two and a half years, up 4.4 percent last month. In corporate news, Toyota Motor Corp is shelling out $1.1 billion to move past the biggest safety crisis in its history. The payout is to settle claims in a 2010 class action lawsuit related to unintended acceleration. It covers repairs and economic losses but not death or injury claims. And a 99% paycut for Apple CEO Tim Cook this year, from nearly $380 million in 2011 to just over four million. That's because Cook will not get long-term stock awards this year--the reason for the fat figure last year. U.S. markets weren't the only ones held back by lack of action on the fiscal cliff. European shares eeked out only minor gains for the day.