(By Balachander) U.S. stocks ended in green following initial round of negotiations at the White House over avoiding the looming "fiscal cliff".
The S&P 500 Index rose 0.48 percent to end at 1,359.86. The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished at 12,588.23, up 0.37 percent. The Nasdaq Composite Index gained 0.57 percent to close at 2,853.13.
President Barack Obama has pushed for higher taxes on wealthy Americans to address the fiscal cliff of roughly $600 billion in spending cuts and tax increases that could hit economic growth. Obama held talks with Democratic and Republican congressional leaders today.
In a statement, the White House said the President and the leadership had a constructive meeting and agreed to do everything possible to find a solution that averts the so-called "fiscal cliff," and to work together to find a balanced approach to reduce deficit that includes both revenues and cuts in spending and encourages long-term economic and job growth.
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On the data front, a report showed U.S. industrial production unexpectedly fell 0.4 percent for October, after an increase of 0.4 percent in September, hit by superstorm Sandy. Economists expected production to rise 0.2 percent.
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In corporate news, Dell Inc. (NASDAQ: DELL) plunged 7.53 percent after the PC maker posted a 47 percent drop in quarterly earnings as revenue and margins fell and results trailed market expectations. Dell sees challenging global macro-economic environment to continue in the fourth quarter.
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Sears Holdings Corp. (NASDAQ: SHLD) lost 18.79 percent after the retailer posted a wider third-quarter loss as revenue fell 6 percent due to fewer Kmart and Sears full-line stores in operation and a decline domestic comparable store sales.
OfficeMax Inc. (NYSE: OMX) jumped 12.15 percent after Boise Cascade, in which OMX has a stake, filed plans for a $200 million IPO.
Penn National Gaming Inc. (NASDAQ: PENN) surged 28.24 percent after the company announced plans to split its businesses into two publicly traded companies, a gambling-focused real-estate investment trust and a gambling operator.
Foot Locker Inc. (NYSE: FL) jumped 4.46 percent after the retailer of athletic footwear and apparel posted stronger-than-forecast quarterly earnings, helped by 10.2 percent jump in comparable store sales.
Autodesk Inc. (NASDAQ: ADSK) rose 3.21 percent after the software company's third-quarter earnings beat market expectations.
Dynavax Technologies Corp. (NASDAQ: DVAX) plunged 47.30 percent after a U.S. Food and Drug Administration panel questioned the safety of its experimental hepatitis B vaccine Heplisav.
European markets ended sharply lower, with Germany's DAX dropping 1.32 percent to close at 6,950.53. France's CAC40 fell 1.21 percent to finish at 3,341.52. The U.K.'s FTSE 100 retreated 1.27 percent to end at 5,605.59.
Among Asian markets, China's Shanghai Stock Exchange Composite Index lost 0.77 percent to finish at 2,014.72. Japan's Nikkei 225 jumped 2.20 percent to end at 9,024.16. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index added 0.24 percent to end at 21,159.01. India's BSE Sensex ended at 18,309.37, down 0.88 percent.
Commodity & Currency Scan
Crude oil futures climbed 1.43 percent to $86.67 per barrel, and natural gas futures rose 2.46 percent to $3.79 per million metric British thermal units. Gold futures shed 0.20 percent to $1,712.4 per ounce and silver futures fell 1.33 percent to $32.24 per ounce.
In the currency market, the euro declined 0.35 percent against the U.S. dollar to 1.2737. The British pound added 0.12 percent against the greenback to 1.5886, and the dollar rose 0.10 percent against the Japanese yen at 81.2600.