* Investors parse Fed speeches for taper-timing clues
* Twitter shares rally after product announcements
* McDonald's November sales miss estimates, stock weighs on
* Dow up 0.03 pct; S&P 500 up 0.2 pct; Nasdaq up 0.2 pct
By Rodrigo Campos
NEW YORK, Dec 9 U.S. stocks edged higher on
Monday, with the S&P 500 closing at a record high, as traders
awaited more clues from the Federal Reserve on whether the U.S.
central bank would soon begin winding down its economic
Volume was light and a volatility index fell, signaling calm
among traders. The Dow industrials traded within 43.11 points
from session high to intraday low, in the Dow's tightest daily
range since Aug. 17, 2012.
Speeches from a number of policymakers on Monday suggested
that the Fed may be closer than previously thought to trimming
its $85 billion a month in bond purchases. The stimulus program
has helped drive the U.S. stock market's rally this year.
A recent string of strong economic data, however, has
removed some of the market's anxiety about the eventual ending
of the Fed's quantitative easing program.
A Reuters poll showed on Monday that economists expect the
Fed to begin trimming its quantitative easing program in March,
but some are warming up to the idea that it will do so as early
as this month or at the January meeting.
The policy-setting Federal Open Market Committee will hold
its final meeting of 2013 on Dec. 17-18.
"The Fed isn't going to tighten (monetary policy) any time
soon; they will taper, but only because the economy doesn't need
the stimulus anymore," said John Manley, chief equity strategist
at Wells Fargo Funds Management in New York.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 5.33 points or
0.03 percent, to finish at 16,025.53. The S&P 500 gained
3.28 points or 0.18 percent, to end at 1,808.37, a record
closing high. The Nasdaq Composite added 6.23 points or
0.15 percent, to close at 4,068.751.
The S&P 500 is up 26.8 percent for the year. The benchmark
index is on track for its biggest annual gain in more than a
Twitter's stock closed at its highest level since the
company went public in early November. The stock jumped 9.3
percent to end at $49.14 after a spate of product announcements
that could boost Twitter's revenue prospects.
Sysco Corp shares climbed 9.7 percent to $37.62
after the food distributor said it would buy rival US Foods for
about $3.5 billion and assume about $4.7 billion in debt to
create a company with about $65 billion in annual revenue.
In contrast, McDonald's shares fell 1.1 percent to
$95.72 after the fast-food restaurant chain reported
weaker-than-expected global sales at established restaurants for
November. A sharp drop in comparable-store sales in the United
States hurt its global sales, McDonald's said.
Shares of Edwards Lifesciences Corp dropped 5.4
percent to $62.73 after the company forecast 2014 earnings below
analysts' estimates and said it would face new competition in
the United States and Europe.
About 5.6 billion shares changed hands on U.S. exchanges,
below the 6.16 billion average so far this month, according to
data from BATS Global Markets.
Advancers and decliners were evenly distributed on the New
York Stock Exchange. On the Nasdaq, two issues rose for every
three that fell.