US STOCKS-Tech shares propel Wall St higher; Fed eyed

Tue Dec 11, 2012 10:24am EST

* Technology shares lift markets, Apple up 2 pct

* German confidence data helps lift U.S. stocks

* Fed to begin two-day policy meeting

* Indexes up: S&P 0.8 pct, Dow 0.7 pct, Nasdaq 1.1 pct

By Leah Schnurr

NEW YORK, Dec 11 (Reuters) - Wall Street opened higher on Tuesday, lifted by gains in shares of technology companies as investors picked up some recent laggards, including Apple.

Unexpected improvement in data out of Europe set the positive tone early as investors cast around for catalysts. The U.S. stock market has entered a traditionally quiet period heading into the end of the year, with thinner trading volumes.

The Nasdaq fared better than other major indexes, lifted by a 2 percent gain in Apple Inc. The company's shares have been beaten down recently, partly due to investors' booking profit before a possible rise in capital gains taxes next year. Apple was recently up 2.5 percent at $543.18.

Elsewhere in the tech sector, Intel Corp was up 2.3 percent at $20.54, while Hewlett-Packard rose 1.1 percent to $14.31.

Investors are picking up weaker stocks in hopes of a market turn around next year, said Michael Sheldon, chief market strategist at RDM Financial in Westport, Connecticut.

"I doubt there's going to be a lot of conviction based on volume when everything is said and done at the end of the day," said Sheldon.

The Dow Jones industrial average gained 90.31 points, or 0.69 percent, to 13,260.19. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index rose 11.14 points, or 0.79 percent, to 1,429.69. The Nasdaq Composite Index climbed 33.73 points, or 1.13 percent, to 3,020.69.

Though the pace of talks in Washington to avert impending U.S. tax hikes and spending cuts quickened, senior politicians on both sides cautioned that an agreement on all the outstanding issues remained uncertain.

The lack of progress in negotiations about the "fiscal cliff" has kept investors from making aggressive bets in recent weeks, though most expect a deal will eventually be reached.

In Germany, analyst and investor sentiment rose sharply in December, entering positive territory for the first time since May, a leading survey showed. The data helped drive European shares higher.

The U.S. Treasury is selling its remaining stake in insurer American International Group Inc, bringing an end to government ownership of the company about four years after a $182 billion bailout. AIG's shares were up 3.6 percent at $34.55.

The Fed will begin its policy-setting meeting on Tuesday. The central bank is expected to announce a new round of Treasury bond purchases when the meeting ends on Wednesday to replace its "Operation Twist" stimulus which expires at the end of the year.

Comments (0)
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

California state worker Albert Jagow (L) goes over his retirement options with Calpers Retirement Program Specialist JeanAnn Kirkpatrick at the Calpers regional office in Sacramento, California October 21, 2009. Calpers, the largest U.S. public pension fund, manages retirement benefits for more than 1.6 million people, with assets comparable in value to the entire GDP of Israel. The Calpers investment portfolio had a historic drop in value, going from a peak of $250 billion in the fall of 2007 to $167 billion in March 2009, a loss of about a third during that period. It is now around $200 billion. REUTERS/Max Whittaker   (UNITED STATES) - RTXPWOZ

How to get out of debt

Financial adviser Eric Brotman offers strategies for cutting debt from student loans and elder care -- and how to avoid money woes in the first place.  Video