* Optimism about fiscal cliff talks boosts equities
* Apple slides 0.9 percent
* Indexes up: S&P 0.55 pct, Dow 0.38 pct, Nasdaq 0.42 pct
By Gabriel Debenedetti
NEW YORK, Dec 17 U.S. stocks climbed on Monday,
bolstered by signs of the first real movement this weekend in
negotiations over the "fiscal cliff," though trading volumes
Nine of the S&P 500's 10 sectors were higher, led by
financials, as the S&P Financial Index gained 1.6
percent. Shares of Bank of America rose 2.7 percent to
$10.87 and Citigroup gained 2.6 percent to $38.57.
Republican House Speaker John Boehner edged closer to
President Barack Obama's position as they try to avoid the
automatic tax hikes and spending cuts that would take place in
the new year if no deal is reached.
Sources familiar with the talks confirmed that Boehner
proposed extending low tax rates for everyone who earns less
than $1 million. Still, his new position remains far from that
of President Obama.
"We have a nice little move here following the conversations
between the GOP and the White House on getting a deal done,"
said Frank Davis, director of sales and trading at LEK
Securities in New York.
"Really, the fiscal cliff is starting to get ironed out,
with Boehner raising the possibility of taxes, moving in the
Trading is normally quiet during this time of year and
investors have been cautious because of uncertainty about a
fiscal deal. They are worried the U.S. economy could slide into
recession if the tax and spending changes are implemented,
though most expect a deal will eventually be reached.
The market shrugged off Monday's gloomier economic data that
showed manufacturing activity in the New York region declined
for a fifth straight month in December.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 50.01 points,
or 0.38 percent, at 13,185.02. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index
gained 7.79 points, or 0.55 percent, at 1,421.37. The
Nasdaq Composite Index was up 12.46 points, or 0.42
percent, at 2,983.80.
If the S&P 500 keeps its gains, it would snap a two-day
losing streak that came after a six-day run of higher finishes.
Despite the uncertainty, the S&P has performed well in the last
month, grinding higher in mostly light volume.
Clearwire Corp agreed to sell the rest of the
company to Sprint Nextel Corp for a slightly sweeter $2.2
billion offer, days after minority shareholders criticized the
previous bid as too low. Clearwire tumbled 13.3 percent to
$2.92, while Sprint dropped 0.3 percent to $5.53.
Apple Inc shares slipped 0.9 percent to $505.12
after two firms cut their price targets on the stock.
The tech giant said it sold more than 2 million of its new
iPhone 5 smartphones in China during the three days after its
launch there on Friday, but the figures did not ease worries
about stiffer competition. Apple shares have tumbled nearly 30
percent in about three months.