* Fiscal cliff negotiations move forward
* Top Republican says vote in Congress could come this week
* Arbitron Inc surges after Nielsen Holdings agrees to buy
* Indexes rise: Dow 0.7 pct, S&P 0.8 pct, Nasdaq 1 pct
By Gabriel Debenedetti
NEW YORK, Dec 18 U.S. stocks added to a surge on
Tuesday, bolstered by views that the "fiscal cliff" negotiations
were progressing, even as Democrats and Republicans in Congress
bantered back and forth.
The gains followed a steep rally on Monday, which lifted the
S&P 500 to its highest point in nearly two months.
Republican House Speaker John Boehner said President Barack
Obama's most recent offer on taxing the wealthy is "not there
yet," but he was hopeful of an agreement to avert steep tax
hikes and spending cuts before a Dec. 31
Boehner had earlier edged closer to Obama's position on
raising taxes on the wealthy while extending tax cuts for other
Americans, but gaps remained between the two men's positions.
Boehner took the latest negotiating positions before House
Republicans and said a vote could come as early as this week.
"As you get more and more clarity and dialogue that there
will be a compromise to avoid a fiscal cliff, I think the
markets are going to rally," said Weston Boone, vice president
of listed trading at Stifel Nicolaus Capital Markets.
"What's holding this market back -- the S&P 500 -- from
continuing to reach higher highs is the macro headwinds, and a
lot of that emanates from (Washington) D.C."
Investors have been reluctant to make big bets in the face
of uncertainty because many fear going over the cliff would push
the economy into recession.
The Dow Jones industrial average gained 85.62 points,
or 0.65 percent, to 13,321.01. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index
rose 11.77 points, or 0.82 percent, to 1,442.13. The
Nasdaq Composite Index added 30.29 points, or 1.01
percent, to 3,040.90.
Tech shares rose, and gains in large-cap technology shares
lifted the Nasdaq. Seagate Tech rose 4.2 percent to
$29.23 while F5 Networks Inc rose 3.3 percent to
$95.64. The S&P Information Technology Index rose 0.88
Arbitron Inc surged 23 percent to $47.00 after
Nielsen Holdings NV agreed to buy the media and
marketing research firm in a deal worth $1.26 billion. Nielsen
rose 1.9 percent to $30.18.
Baker Hughes Inc said third-quarter margins and
revenue would be below its expectations because of lower land
drilling activity and price erosion. Shares rose 3.1 percent to
$41.91, reversing a decline in the premarket session.
The New York Times said that Wal-Mart Stores Inc's
Mexican affiliate routinely used bribes to open stores in
desirable locations. The story cited 19 instances of the retail
giant paying off local officials. In a statement Monday night,
Wal-Mart spokesman David Tovar said the company was looking into
the allegations. Wal-Mart shares fell 0.2 percent to $69.07.