* Stocks rise after Boehner speaks on cliff negotiations
* NYSE Euronext shares soar, ICE to buy for $8.2 billion
* Third-quarter GDP tops expectations
* Dow up 0.2 pct, S&P 500 up 0.4 pct, Nasdaq up 0.2 pct
By Gabriel Debenedetti
NEW YORK, Dec 20 U.S. stocks edged up in a
thinly traded session on Thursday after Republican House Speaker
John Boehner pledged to keep working on a solution to the
"fiscal cliff" while still criticizing President Barack Obama's
approach to budget talks.
NYSE Euronext was the day's biggest gainer, surging
33.5 percent to $32.12 as the S&P 500's top percentage gainer,
after IntercontinentalExchange Inc said it would buy the
operator of the New York Stock Exchange for $8.2 billion.
ICE shares were last down 0.7 percent at $127.40.
Republicans in the U.S House of Representatives pushed ahead
with their own fiscal plan, complicating negotiations with the
White House over a way to avoid a series of steep tax hikes and
spending cuts due in early 2013. Obama has vowed to veto the
Investors have hoped for an agreement soon between
policymakers, but progress has been slow. Boehner said he
expected to continue to work with Obama to find a solution, but
repeated his charge that Obama and the Democrats were trying to
"slow walk" the country over the fiscal cliff.
"Speaker Boehner went on the air and basically told us he
doesn't like what the president's doing or not doing, and the
markets rallied on that, which was kind of weird. But we have
very light volume," said Stephen Guilfoyle, a trader at Meridian
Equity Partners in New York.
About 4 billion shares had changed hands on major U.S.
exchanges, a typically light day of trading for late December.
The Dow Jones industrial average advanced 27.94
points, or 0.21 percent, to 13,279.91. The Standard & Poor's 500
Index gained 5.51 points, or 0.38 percent, to 1,441.32.
The Nasdaq Composite Index rose 5.44 points, or 0.18
percent, to 3,049.80.
Stocks rallied earlier in the week on signs of progress in
the fiscal cliff negotiations, but with the S&P 500 up 14.6
percent so far this year, investors are taking the opportunity
to engage in some hedging as 2012 comes to a close.
Herbalife lost 10.2 percent to $33.54 following news
that hedge fund manager Bill Ackman was betting against the
company as part of his big end-of-the-year short.
The S&P Financial Index gained 1.04 percent.
The U.S. economy grew 3.1 percent in the third quarter,
faster than previously estimated, while the number of Americans
filing new claims for jobless benefits rose more than expected
in the latest week.
Existing home sales jumped 5.9 percent in November, more
than expected, and by the fastest monthly pace in three years.
An index of housing shares gained 0.43 percent.
But KB Home slid 7 percent to $15.49 as the company
reported higher homebuilding costs and expenses in the fourth