* Obama, Boehner at odds on taxes and budget
* Zynga shares slide after revising deal with Facebook
* Whole Foods announces special dividend
* Dow up 0.03 pct, S&P 500 up 0.02 pct, Nasdaq off 0.06 pct
By Rodrigo Campos
NEW YORK, Nov 30 The S&P 500 wrapped up its
fifth positive month in the last six on Friday, although it
ended the day flat as politicians remain at odds about how to
avoid the so-called fiscal cliff.
Trading has been choppy in the last two weeks as investors
react to statements from policymakers on the state of
discussions on how to avert a series of tax hikes and spending
cuts that could pull the economy back into recession.
The S&P 500 was up 0.29 percent in November even as it
suffered a slide of more than 6 percent from the month's high to
"Given the 'on again, off again' fiscal cliff
(negotiations), it's rather surprising how resilient this market
has been," said David Rolfe, chief investment officer at St.
Louis-based Wedgewood Partners.
"Between now and the end of the year, there's going to be an
information vacuum outside the fiscal cliff, and I believe that
resiliency will be tested."
In contrast to the apparent calm in equities, the CBOE
Volatility Index, a gauge of market anxiety, jumped 5.4
percent, its largest daily gain in two weeks.
The VIX also rose for the week, but posted a whopping 14.7
percent decline for November.
On Friday, President Barack Obama accused a "handful of
Republicans" in the U.S. House of Representatives of holding up
legislation to extend tax cuts for middle-class Americans in
order to try to preserve them for the wealthy.
Speaking shortly after the president, House Speaker John
Boehner, an Ohio Republican, said: "There is a stalemate; let's
not kid ourselves."
Despite the divisive language, many market participants are
betting that a deal will be struck - if only at the eleventh
Corporations continue to react to what is expected to be a
harsher tax regime next year. Whole Foods Market was the
latest to announce a special cash dividend - of $2.00 per share
in this case - ahead of expected higher tax rates in 2013.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 3.76 points, or
0.03 percent, to 13,025.58 at the close. The S&P 500
gained a mere 0.23 of a point, or 0.02 percent, to finish at
1,416.18. But the Nasdaq Composite Index dipped 1.79
points, or 0.06 percent, to end at 3,010.24.
For the month of November, the S&P 500 rose 0.29 percent,
its smallest monthly variation since March 2011. The Dow fell
0.5 percent and the Nasdaq gained 1.1 percent.
For the week, though, all three major U.S. stock indexes
advanced, with the Dow up 0.1 percent, the S&P 500 up 0.5
percent and the Nasdaq up 1.5 percent.
VeriSign shares dropped 13.2 percent to $34.15
after the company said the U.S. Department of Commerce approved
its agreement with ICANN to run the .com internet registry, but
VeriSign won't be able to raise prices as it did before.
Yum Brands slid 9.9 percent to $67.08 a day after
the parent of the KFC, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut chains said it
expects a drop in fourth-quarter sales at established
restaurants in China.
After a close relationship for several years, Facebook
and Zynga revised terms of a partnership
agreement, according to regulatory filings on Thursday. Under
the new pact, Zynga, creator of the "Farmville" game, will have
limited ability to promote its site on Facebook.
Zynga's stock fell 6.1 percent to $2.46. Facebook's stock
gained 2.5 percent to $28.
Apple Inc's latest iPhone received final clearance
from Chinese regulators, paving the way for a December debut in
a highly competitive market where the lack of a new model had
severely eroded its share of product sales. Apple's stock fell
0.7 percent to $585.28.
The markets' reaction to data on Friday was muted.
U.S. consumer spending fell in October for the first time in
five months and income growth stalled, leading some economists
to cut already weak estimates of fourth-quarter economic growth.
Slightly more than 7 billion shares changed hands on the New
York Stock Exchange, the Nasdaq and NYSE MKT, more than the
daily average so far this year of about 6.48 billion shares and
the largest in two weeks.
On the NYSE, roughly six issues rose for every five that
fell, while on Nasdaq, the ratio was nearly 1 to 1.