by Marc Bastow | December 18, 2012 4:52 pm
Make it two days in a row for U.S. markets, as stocks rose broadly once again on increasingly stronger hopes that Congress will navigate the fiscal cliff before the January deadline.
House Speaker John Boehner’s suggestion that he was open to including higher tax rates on the wealthiest Americans was acknowledged as progress by President Barack Obama, who responded with another counter-offer with compromises on tax increases and spending cuts. Meanwhile, investors hang on very last press release.
The Nasdaq once again led the way up, gaining 1.46% to finish at 3,054.53, while the S&P 500 ended up 1.15% at 1,446.79 and the Dow rose 0.87% to 13,351.12.
Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) shares continue to rebound off their Monday bottom with a 3% gain despite a setback: A federal judge denied its request for a permanent ban on 26 Samsung (PINK:SSNLF) products that Apple charged — and a jury ruled — had infringed Apple’s patents.
Dow banking component Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) continued its 23% monthlong rally with 3% gains Tuesday; Dow tech components Hewlett Packard (NYSE:HPQ, +2.3%) Intel (NASDAQ:INTC, +1.9%) and Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT, +1.7%) also headed strongly north.
Television ratings company Nielsen Holdings NV (NYSE:NLSN) agreed to buy media and marketing information services firm Arbitron (NYSE:ARB) for about $1.26 billion in cash, or $48 per share — a 26% premium on Monday’s closing price. ARB finished the day up 23% to $47 per share, while NLSN rose up over 4% on the news.
Social networking and directory services company Yelp (NYSE:YELP) sank just under 5% as competition from Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) and Apple has investors concerned about future results.
Finally, the fallout of the Newtown, Conn., shooting continued to take its toll on gun-related companies. Private equity firm Cerberus Capital said it planned to put its stake in U.S. firearms maker Freedom Group — which makes the Bushmaster rifle used by the shooter — up for sale. Meanwhile, gun manufacturers Smith & Wesson (NASDAQ:SWHC, -10%) and Sturm & Ruger (NYSE:RGR, -7.7%) fell again, as did hunting and fishing retailer Cabelas (NYSE:CAB), which dropped just more than 5% for the day.
Marc Bastow is an Assistant Editor at InvestorPlace.com. As of this writing he is long MSFT, INTC and AAPL.
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