* Infighting among Republicans surfaces in fiscal cliff
* Coach advances dividend pay date to Dec. 27
* VIX 10-day internal volatility gauge lowest since 2007
* MetroPCS off as Sprint unlikely to make counter-offer
* Dow up 0.2 pct, S&P flat, Nasdaq off 0.2 pct
By Chuck Mikolajczak
NEW YORK, Dec 4 U.S. stocks were little changed
on Tuesday as the market awaited developments in negotiations in
Washington to avert a "fiscal cliff" that could push the U.S.
economy into recession.
Republicans in Congress proposed steep spending cuts to
bring down the budget deficit on Monday but gave no ground on
President Barack Obama's call to raise taxes on the wealthiest
Americans, and the proposal was quickly dismissed by the White
The market has been subject to swings in reaction to the
proposals floated so far by politicians. Still, many investors
expect the two sides to come up with a deal before the year-end
deadline, which could trigger a rally in equities.
"Investors everywhere are focused on what is happening here
related to the fiscal cliff and the risk that nothing will
happen," said Gail Dudack, Chief Investment Strategist, Dudack
Research Group in New York.
"From what I have seen, there is a consensus that something
will happen. Maybe if it is not ideal, something will happen."
Differences within the Republican Party over how to engage
with the Democrats came to the fore on Tuesday as one senator
opposed to raising taxes lashed out at House Speaker and fellow
Republican John Boehner for proposing to increase revenue by
closing some tax loopholes.
Despite the sudden moves in the market, a measure of
investor anxiety has held surprisingly flat.
The CBOE volatility index, a gauge of market anxiety,
was at 17 but has not traded above 20 since July following its
2012 high near 28 hit in June. The VIX's 10-day Average True
Range, an internal volatility measure, is at its lowest since
Obama will meet with U.S. governors at the White House on
Tuesday to talk about the fiscal cliff, a $600 billion package
of tax hikes and federal spending cuts that would begin Jan. 1.
The president is also expected to talk about the fiscal
cliff during an interview scheduled for 12:30 p.m. (1730 GMT) on
Coach became the latest company to advance the date
of its next dividend payment. Expectations of higher taxes on
dividends kicking in in 2013 have pushed many companies to pay
special dividends this year or advance their next pay-back to
investors. Shares of the upscale leather-goods maker shed 1.6
percent to $57.25.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 27.92 points,
or 0.22 percent, to 12,993.52. The S&P 500 edged up 0.44
points, or 0.03 percent, to 1,409.90. The Nasdaq Composite
fell 4.44 points, or 0.15 percent, to 2,997.76.
Darden Restaurants Inc plunged 10.1 percent to
$47.14 as the worst performer on the S&P 500 after warning its
latest quarter would miss expectations after unsuccessful
promotions led to a decline in sales at its Olive Garden, Red
Lobster and LongHorn Steakhouse chains.
In contrast, Big Lots Inc jumped 8 percent to $30.28
after the close-out retailer posted a smaller-than-expected loss
and boosted its full-year adjusted earnings forecast.
Toll Brothers shares advanced 0.3 percent to $32.53
after the largest U.S. luxury homebuilder reported a higher
quarterly profit and said new orders rose sharply.
MetroPCS Communications shares dropped 6.5 percent
to $10.07 after Sprint Nextel appeared unlikely to make a
counter-offer for the wireless service provider.
Shares of Pep Boys-Manny Moe and Jack slumped 12.5
percent at $9.34 a day after the release of the auto parts