"A repeat of what we had last year would be of real concern," said Paul Ferley, assistant chief economist at RBC. "People sent these politicians to Washington to get things done, not engage in partisan bickering."
World stock markets are on course for their worst weekly performance since June, sagging largely thanks to the fiscal fears and the sovereign debt crisis in Europe.
Forecasters expected little improvement before the year is out. They see the S&P 500 index .SPX at 1,375 going into 2013 -- hardly changed from Thursday's close 1,377.51, as investors wait to see how budget talks progress.
"The hope is that in six or seven short weeks (politicians) can come to some sort of broad-based, bipartisan, long-run compromise. But that just seems like a very low probability outcome," said BoAML's Hanson.
There also remains the question over the composition of America's top economic policymakers over the next few months.
Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner is stepping down and there is little consensus over his replacement.
Eleven economists cited Jack Lew, Obama's White house chief of staff, as the most likely replacement, while nine pointed to Erskine Bowles, who was also chief of staff during Bill Clinton's presidency.
Of the 35 out of 55 economists who think Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke will step down on conclusion of his second term, 21 thought his vice-chair, Janet Yellen, would take over.