* Ceasefire declared in Gaza conflict
* Lenders fail to reach deal for Greece
* Investors remain wary of "fiscal cliff" impact
* Dow up 0.4 pct; S&P 500 up 0.2 pct; Nasdaq up 0.4 pct
By Angela Moon
NEW YORK, Nov 21 U.S. stocks rose on Wednesday
after a ceasefire was declared to end the flare-up in violence
between Israel and the Palestinians, though the lack of a deal
to release emergency aid for Greece limited the market's
Investors also remained anxious about the mandatory tax
increases and spending cuts that would go into effect in the new
year if a deal is not reached to prevent it - known as the
"fiscal cliff" - though policymakers are not expected to get
back to negotiations until after Thursday's Thanksgiving
Trading volume was light ahead of the holiday on Thursday,
when the U.S. stock market will be closed. With less than an
hour left to trade until the closing bell, about 3.6 billion
shares traded on the New York Stock Exchange, the Nasdaq and the
NYSE MKT, compared with year-to-date daily average volume of 6.5
billion shares. On Friday, the U.S. stock market will close
early at 1 p.m. (1800 GMT).
"Usually on patriotic holidays, which I think Thanksgiving
is one, we often see a rally on a light volume. So I wouldn't be
surprised if we see that on Friday, if there is no major news,"
said J.J. Kinahan, chief derivatives strategist at TD Ameritrade
"So far this week, we have heard good news in terms of (the)
fiscal cliff. Both sides seem to be playing nice, but we will
start to see big day-to-day swings (in the market) from next
week, when we get more details."
Greece's international lenders failed again to reach a deal
to release emergency aid to the debt-saddled country. Lenders
will try again next Monday, but Germany signaled that
significant divisions remain.
A truce between Israel and Hamas gave stocks some support
around midday after Egypt announced a ceasefire will come into
effect later in the day.
Fears that the fiscal cliff discussions in Washington could
be drawn out or yield no resolution have been at the forefront
of investors' minds in recent weeks. Combined with concerns over
the euro zone's continued debt problems, the worries had driven
a sell-off that has taken more than 5 percent off the S&P 500
since Election Day in early November.
Positive comments from U.S. politicians that they will work
to find common ground have helped the S&P 500 recoup some of
that loss in recent sessions.
The Dow Jones industrial average gained 49.60 points,
or 0.39 percent, to 12,838.11. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index
added 2.64 points, or 0.19 percent, to 1,390.45. The
Nasdaq Composite Index rose 10.10 points, or 0.35
percent, to 2,926.78.
St Jude Medical shares tumbled 12.1 percent to
$31.38 after an inspection report from health regulators raised
new safety concerns about one of the company's leads that are
used with implantable defibrillators, analysts said.
A small gain in International Business Machines
helped the Dow outperform the other indexes. IBM was up 0.8
percent at $190.73.
Salesforce.com Inc jumped 8.4 percent to $158.20
after the business software provider beat Wall Street's
expectations for the third quarter and maintained its outlook
for the rest of the year.
But Deere & Co dragged on the S&P 500 after the
world's largest farm equipment maker reported a
weaker-than-expected quarterly profit. Its stock lost 3.7
percent to $82.78.
The market did not derive much direction from the day's
economic data, with initial jobless claims falling last week, as
Other data showed manufacturing picked up at its quickest
pace in five months in November, while consumer sentiment
improved only slightly.
The focus will likely turn to retailers on Friday as
analysts try to assess how strong the holiday shopping season
will be this year, according to Kurt Brunner, portfolio manager
at Swarthmore Group in Philadelphia. Holiday shopping
traditionally kicks off the day after Thanksgiving, known as
Black Friday, as stores offer deals and discounts to lure