(By Balaseshan) U.S. stocks closed sharply higher on the last trading session of the year after hopes that an agreement will be reached to avert the looming "fiscal cliff".
The S&P 500 Index gained 1.31 percent to end at 1,420.86. The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 1.32 percent to finish at 13,108.50. The Nasdaq Composite Index rose 2.01 percent to close at 3,019.76.
President Barack Obama and U.S. House Speaker John Boehner negotiations to address the so-called "fiscal cliff" of roughly $600 billion in spending cuts and tax increases are edging towards agreement, according to media reports.
President Barack Obama delivered a statement on the budget negotiations, saying issues to resolve "fiscal deal" remain but expressed hope that the Congress will get it done.
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"Today, it appears that an agreement to prevent this New Year's tax hike is within sight, but it is not done," Obama said in a statement. "There are still issues left to resolve, but we're hopeful that Congress can get it done, but it's not done."
There were no U.S. economic data released on Monday. The stock markets will be shut on Tuesday for the New Year holiday.
Hot Stocks Of The Day: BMY, FB, AAPL, DUF, CALM
In corporate news, Bristol Myers Squibb Co. (NYSE: BMY) rose 1.76 percent in premarket after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the anti-clotting drug Eliquis (apixaban). Eliquis is manufactured Bristol-Myers Squibb and marketed by BMS and Pfizer Inc. (NYSE: PFE).
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Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ: FB) gained 2.62 percent. BMO Capital Markets has resumed coverage of Facebook with an "Outperform" rating, up from previous "Underperform" rating.
Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) added 4.79 percent. Apple intends to launch an e-book service in Japan early January, according to Nikkei as quoted by the Fly on the Wall. In addition, rumors surfaced that Apple is developing an iWatch smartphone with Intel (NASDAQ: INTC) chip for 2013.
Duff & Phelps Corp. (NYSE: DUF) jumped 19.77 percent. The company has agreed to be bought by a consortium that includes The Carlyle Group, Stone Point Capital LLC, Pictet & Cie and Edmond de Rothschild Group for $15.55 per share or about $665.5 million.
Cal-Maine Foods Inc. (NASDAQ: CALM) fell 9.08 percent. The producer of shell eggs reported a 38.6% drop in quarterly earnings due to higher costs for corn and soybean meal, primary feed ingredients, and additional expenses related to recent acquisitions.
European markets closed lower, with Germany's DAX down 0.57 percent, closing at 7,612.39. France's CAC40 fell 0.90 percent to finish at 3,641.07. The U.K.'s FTSE 100 dipped 0.47 percent to end at 5,897.81.
Asian markets ended mixed, with China's Shanghai Stock Exchange Composite Index up 1.61 percent to finish at 2,269.13. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index fell 0.04 percent to end at 22,656.92. India's BSE Sensex ended at 19,426.71, up 0.09 percent. The Japanese market is shut for a holiday.
Commodity & Currency Scan
Crude oil futures gained 1.15 percent to $91.84 per barrel while natural gas futures fell 3.40 percent to $3.35 per million metric British thermal units. Gold futures added 1.13 percent to $1,675 per ounce and silver futures rose 1.62 percent to $30.47 per ounce.
In the currency market, the euro slid 0.17 percent against the U.S. dollar to 1.3194. The British pound gained 0.59 percent against the greenback to 1.6249, and the dollar added 0.92 percent against the Japanese yen to 86.7500.