* McDonald's shares rise on November sales
* Italian prime minister's resignation adds to uncertainty
* Investors look for progress in Washington "fiscal cliff"
* Dow up 0.1 pct, S&P up 0.03 pct, Nasdaq up 0.3 pct
By Caroline Valetkevitch
NEW YORK, Dec 10 U.S. stocks edged higher on
Monday as technology shares bounced back after recent weakness
and McDonald's posted strong monthly sales.
Technology stocks were led by Hewlett-Packard Co,
which climbed 2.6 percent to $14.16 on rumors that activist
investor Carl Icahn is building a stake in the PC maker. The
stock is down 44.5 percent for the year and ranks as the Dow's
worst performer. The S&P technology index
was up 0.3 percent.
Tech also was supported by Cisco Systems, which
gained 2.4 percent to $19.79 after the company presented its
midterm growth strategy on Friday.
McDonald's Corp gave the Dow a jolt, gaining 1.1
percent to $89.41, as its November sales were stronger than
expected and showed a bounce back from a decline in October.
There was little news Monday about the negotiations over the
"fiscal cliff," a series of automatic tax hikes and spending
cuts that could hurt economic growth next year. Concerns that
lawmakers will not broker a deal have kept a lid on optimism in
the equity market.
"There is a general sense that if a deal is struck, that we
could have a further advance in the market at the end of this
year as well as the first part of next year," said Michael
Sheldon, chief market strategist at RDM Financial in Westport,
A breakout to the upside on a cliff deal could take the S&P
500 back up to 1,474, just off the 2012 high for the index, said
Elliot Spar, Stifel Nicolaus option market strategist in
Shrewsbury, New Jersey.
The benchmark S&P 500 index has yet to see a move greater
than 0.5 percent in either direction on any day in December, and
hasn't moved more than 1 percent either way in any session since
Nov. 23. However, the market has regained most of the losses
incurred post-election as investors refocused on the fiscal
U.S. President Barack Obama met with Republican House
Speaker John Boehner on Sunday to negotiate a budget deal. A
Boehner aide said Monday that talks are continuing.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 14.75 points,
or 0.11 percent, to 13,169.88 at the close. The Standard &
Poor's 500 Index inched up just 0.48 of a point, or 0.03
percent, to 1,418.55. The Nasdaq Composite Index
advanced 8.92 points, or 0.30 percent, to close at 2,986.96.
News out of Italy kept sentiment in check as Prime Minister
Mario Monti said he would resign after the approval of the 2013
budget. The move added to uncertainty about progress being made
to tackle the euro zone's debt problem and drove Italy's
borrowing costs higher.
U.S.-listed shares of Nexen jumped 13.8 percent to
$26.77 and the stock was the second-most actively traded on the
New York Stock Exchange. On Friday, Canada approved a $15.1
billion bid by CNOOC Ltd for energy company Nexen.
The S&P materials index gained 0.7 percent and led
the S&P 500's sector index gains as shares of mining companies
rose in sync with copper and gold prices. Shares of
Freeport-McMoRan gained 1.1 percent to $32.04.
Volume was roughly 5.3 billion shares traded on the NYSE,
the Nasdaq and the NYSE MKT, compared with the year-to-date
average daily closing volume of roughly 6.5 billion.
Advancers outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by a ratio of
about 17 to 13, while on the Nasdaq, seven stocks rose for every
five that fell.
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