President Obama was snapped back into the  reality of dealing with a fragile economic recovery today as stocks plunged in  the wake of his re-election and the labor department announced that job openings  dropped to a five-month low.

The Dow Jones industrial average plummeted  200 points within minutes after the opening bell and it continued falling, down  354 points two hours later. In late afternoon trading, it was down 323 points,  or 2.5 percent, while index futures also  plunged after the European Union slashed its growth forecast for next  year.

Meanwhile, the dollar rose and the Labor  Department announced that the number of job openings waiting to be filled  declined by 100,000 to 3.56 million from the prior month. The figures show that  the October jump in private payrolls, which was the biggest in eight months, may  be difficult to sustain.

Mere hours after the jubilation of  winning a  hard-fought campaign against Republican challenger Mitt  Romney, Obama must now  face the headaches of the so-called ‘fiscal  cliff’ of $607 billion in tax  increases and spending cuts, high  unemployment and uncertain economic growth.

As he approaches the challenges ahead,  voters will be holding him to his acceptance speech promise that ‘the  best  days are yet to come.’

Obama returns now to a still-bitterly divided  Congress in Washington, which must come to a deficit reduction agreement within  the next 54 days to avoid the fiscal cliff’s debilitating mixture of tax increases  and spending cuts.

If Congress fails to act, the U.S. economy  would contract sharply, potentially sending the nation into a second recession  that could spread globally.

Businesses are already slowing hiring and  holding back from making new investments in preparation for the  possibility  that Congress fails to overcome its division.

With the weight of the nation’s economy on  his shoulders, President Obama  stressed the need for bipartisanship in his  acceptance speech last  night.

‘In the coming  weeks and months, I am  looking forward to reaching out and working with  leaders of both parties to  meet the challenges we can only solve  together,’ Obama said. ‘I believe we can  seize this future together  because we are not as divided as our politics  suggests.’


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