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US Congress passes fiscal cliff deal

Obama praises the decision.

US Congress has passed a deal to stave off the fiscal cliff, which will raise taxes for the wealthiest Americans, and delay spending cuts.

Barack Obama said the deal was "just one step in the broader effort to strengthen the economy".

Here's the Telegraph:

The bill's passage on a 257-167 vote in the House of Representatives sealed a hard-won political triumph for the president less than two months after he secured re-election while calling for higher taxes on the wealthy.

Moments later, Mr Obama strode into the White House briefing room and said: "Thanks to the votes of Republicans and Democrats in Congress I will sign a law that raises taxes on the wealthiest 2pc of Americans while preventing tax hikes that could have sent the economy back into recession."

There had been huge pressure on US Congress to pass the vote before markets re-opened on Wednesday. Economists warned that the automatic tax rises and spending cuts that would occur in the absence of a deal could send the US back into recession.

Asian markets rose in relief at the news. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index was up 2.1 per cent on Wednesday morning.