In Europe, Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti unexpectedly announced plans to step down after the Italian parliament passes a national budget later this month, and the news crushed Italian stocks.
President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner met over the weekend to discuss the current state of negotiations as the clock ticks down to the Jan. 1 fiscal cliff of tax hikes and spending cuts. Obama’s mid-day comments about his willingness to compromise did little to accelerate the day’s gains, which ended with the Nasdaq ahead 0.3% to 2,986.96, the Dow up 0.11% to 13,169.88, and the S&P 500 up fractionally to 1,418.55.
Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ) jumped 2.5% on unconfirmed reports that activist investor Carl Ichan could take a stake in the computer maker. HPQ was joined in its run by several other tech stocks, including Cisco (NASDAQ:CSCO, +2.4%) and Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT, +1.8%). Dow component McDonald’s (NYSE:MCD) also gained ground, rising just more than 1% after posting a 2.4% rise in same-store sales keyed by sales growth in the U.S.
Barnes & Noble (NYSE:BKS) soared 7% after announcing it will lower prices on its Nook Simple Touch e-reader to $79 from $99, looking to bump up holiday sales. Conversely, Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) saw shares fall over 2% after lowering prices on its Kindle Fire HD.
Groupon (NASDAQ:GRPN) shares did an about-face Monday, dropping more than 9% on what appears to be straight profit-taking following a 23% run-up Friday on news of interest in the company on the part of Google (NASDAQ:GOOG).
Ingersoll-Rand (NYSE:IR) lost just under 2% after announcing plans to spin off its commercial and residential security businesses into a new company, a $2 billion share repurchase program and boosting its quarterly dividend.
Best Buy (NYSE:BBY) shares rose more than 3% despite a raft of analyst downgrades.
Finally, Priceline (NASDAQ:PCLN) tumbled more than 5% as Deutsche Bank (NYSE:DB) downgraded the online travel company from “buy” to “hold” in the face of competition from travelers using mobile phone applications and Expedia (NASDAQ:EXPE).
- Molycorp (NYSE:MCP): Up 19.8% ($1.77) to $10.71.
- Walter Energy (NYSE:WLT): Up 6.2% ($2.13) to $36.34.
- Cliffs Natural Resources (NYSE:CLF): Up 4.6% ($1.35) to $30.86.
- Deckers Outdoor (NASDAQ:DECK): Down 7.8% ($3.34) to $39.42.
- Francesca’s (NASDAQ:FRAN): Down 5.4% ($1.29) to $22.54.
- Nokia (NYSE:NOK): Down 4.2% (16 cents) to $3.69.
Marc Bastow is an Assistant Editor at InvestorPlace.com. As of this writing, he was long MSFT.