Stocks Jump on U.S. Budget Optimism


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Stocks jumped on Monday as traders responded to thawing in U.S. debt talks that appeared stalled as recently as late last week.

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Today's Markets

As of 3:15 p.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 71.4 points, or 0.54%, to 13206, the S&P 500 rose 12 points, or 0.85%, to 1426 and the Nasdaq Composite gained 26.3 points, or 0.89%, to 2998.

Trading desks remained somewhat fixated on talks to avert the fiscal cliff that is looming just weeks away. Without a deal, the world's biggest economy is set to be pounded by painful spending cuts and tax increases.

As of late last week, a deal seemed far out of reach, with Democrats and Republicans continuing to lob criticism at one another. However, a source close to House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner told FOX Business there was a framework under discussion that included $1 trillion in spending cuts and $1 trillion in new revenue. A source also said President Barack Obama and Speaker Boehner were meeting at the White House for further discussions.

Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) was another focus on Monday after Citigroup cut its rating on the tech titan to neutral from buy. It also cut its price target by $100 to $575. Morgan Stanley offered a differing view, with its analysts saying Sunday "despite concerns to the contrary, iPhone and iPad demand remain strong." The investment bank has Apple rated as overweight with a price target of $714.

Since the company's market capitalization is nearly half a trillion dollars, big movements tend to impact the broader markets, especially the technology-heavy Nasdaq.

Also on the corporate front, Sprint (NYSE:S) said it will acquire a 100% stake in Clearwire (NASDAQ:CLRW) for $2.2 billion. The deal values the company at roughly $10 billion, including debt.

The economic calendar was fairly light on the day. The New York Federal Reserve said manufacturing in the Empire State region contracted at a faster pace in December than it did the month prior. The gauge came in at -8.1, down from -5.22, and considerably weaker than the -1 economists expected.

Energy futures were mixed. The benchmark crude contract rose 47 cents, or 0.54%, to $87.20 a barrel. Wholesale New York Harbor gasoline was down 0.28% to $2.655 a gallon. In metals, gold drifted higher by $1.20, or 0.07%, to $1,698 a troy ounce.

Foreign Markets

The Euro Stoxx 50 fell 0.1% to 2628, the English FTSE 100 slumped 0.16% to 5912 and the German DAX rose 0.11% to 7605.

In Asia, the Japanese Nikkei 225 rallied 0.94% to 9829 and the Chinese Hang Seng tilted lower by 0.41% to 22514.

Rich Edson contributed reporting from Washington, D.C.