NEW YORK – Investors sent Washington a reminder Friday that Wall Street is a power player in talks to avoid the “fiscal cliff.”

Stocks fell sharply after House Republicans called off a vote on tax rates and left federal budget talks in disarray 10 days before sweeping tax increases and government spending cuts are scheduled to take effect.

The Dow Jones industrial average lost as much as 189 points before closing down 120.88 points, or 0.9 percent, at 13,190.84. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell 13.54 points to 1,430.15. The Nasdaq composite index declined 29.38 to 3,021.01.

The House bill would have raised taxes on Americans making at least $1 million per year and locked in decade-old tax cuts for Americans making less. Taxes will rise for almost all Americans on Jan. 1 unless Congress acts.

“Where we are today, the market would be satisfied with the announcement of a stopgap measure,” said Quincy Krosby, a market strategist at Prudential Financial. “The more the clock ticks, the more the market is saying, ‘Just give us some- thing.’ “

Other markets registered their concern, but the reaction was not extreme. The yield on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note fell 0.04 percentage point to 1.76 percent.

The price of gold, which some investors buy when fear overtakes the market, climbed, but only by 0.9 percent. Gold rose $14.20 to $1,660.10 an ounce.

If the full fiscal cliff takes effect, economists say it could drag the U.S. into recession next year. The impact would be gradual, though, and a recession is not a sure thing.

Most people would receive only slightly less money in each paycheck. And the tax increases and spending cuts could be retroactively repealed if a deal comes together after Jan. 1.

If budget talks dragged on, many businesses might put off investment or hiring, and consumer spending could suffer. That’s why most economists say it would be crucial to reach a deal within roughly the first two months of 2013.

The sharp drop in stocks Friday was reminiscent of, although much smaller in scale than, what happened Sept. 29, 2008, during the financial crisis.

The House defeated a proposed $700 billion bailout of the U.S. financial industry, and the Dow plunged 777 points, its worst one-day decline. Four days later, the House, shaken by what had happened on Wall Street, passed a modified bill.