Stocks were flat Wednesday as talks aimed at averting a "fiscal cliff" of tax increases and government spending cuts hit a lull. General Motors stock surged after the government announced plans to shed its ownership stake in the company.
Just after the opening bell, the Dow Jones industrial average was down three points at 13,348. The Standard & Poor's 500 index was unchanged at 1,446. The Nasdaq composite index was up five points at 3,059.
House Speaker John Boehner announced Tuesday that Republicans would push for a "Plan B," separate from negotiations with the White House, that would extend decade-old tax cuts for everyone making less than $1 million a year.
The move was a surprise and came after the White House offered to raise top tax rates on households earning more than $400,000, higher than the $250,000 that President Barack Obama argued for during the campaign.
If the Obama administration and congressional Republicans don't strike a deal by Jan. 1, taxes go up for almost all Americans, and government spending will be cut across the board. The combination could lead to a recession.