Stocks stumble as debt ceiling deadline draws closer

With the lack of any market-moving corporate news and a barren economic calendar, traders were focused squarely on the political game of chicken on Capitol Hill, sending stocks broadly lower as hardening resolve on both sides caused the impression that any budget and/or debt ceiling deal may not happen until the last minute - if at all.

As in previous sessions, selling was orderly with no sense of panic, but the Dow did hit one-month lows and the VIX spiked nearly 13% to a three-month high.

Traders said volume remained low as investors held back in the uncertainty.

Asset prices reflected a move to safety: The 10-year Treasury note rose, with its yield slipping to 2.634% from 2.65%, gold futures added 1.1% to $1,324.80, and the dollar fell vs. the yen and the euro.

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