* Indexes at all-time highs, last week was best in months
* Apple rallies after iPhone deal with China Mobile
* Consumer sentiment rises in Dec, but below forecasts
* Indexes up: Dow 0.4 pct, S&P 0.4 pct, Nasdaq 0.6 pct
By Ryan Vlastelica
NEW YORK, Dec 23 U.S. stocks rose Monday,
advancing to all-time highs as Apple Inc surged on a
distribution deal with China Mobile.
Activity is expected to be thin this week, with many market
participants out for the Christmas holiday. Equity markets will
close early on Tuesday and will be closed all of Wednesday. The
light volume could amplify market volatility.
Tech titan Apple said Sunday it had signed a long-awaited
agreement with China Mobile Ltd to sell
iPhones through the world's biggest network of mobile phone
users, a deal that could add billions of dollars to its revenue.
"This is just good news, and a much bigger strategic deal
than had been forecast," said Oliver Pursche, president of the
Suffern, New York-based Gary Goldberg Financial Services, which
owns the stock.
"Apple is incredibly undervalued at this stage, and this
deal can help it trade well beyond $600 early in 2014."
Shares of Apple jumped 3.3 percent to $567.13 and the
stock's massive market capitalization helped lift both the S&P
500 and Nasdaq.
U.S.-listed shares of China Mobile rose 2 percent to $52.67.
The Dow Jones industrial average was up 58.57 points,
or 0.36 percent, at 16,279.71. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index
was up 7.27 points, or 0.40 percent, at 1,825.59. The
Nasdaq Composite Index was up 24.29 points, or 0.59
percent, at 4,129.03.
Both the Dow and S&P were at all-time highs, extending sharp
gains from last week, the strongest for major indexes in months.
The rally was fueled by strong economic data and a U.S.
Federal Reserve decision to begin trimming its stimulus program,
which removed a major source of uncertainty for the market. The
Fed also said its key interest rate would stay at rock-bottom
longer than previously promised.
The S&P has soared about 28 percent this year, thanks
largely to the Fed's stimulus, and is on track for its best year
In the latest economic data, a survey showed that consumer
sentiment rose to its strongest in five months in December as
Americans' outlook on the economy and job prospects improved.
However, the read was slightly below expectations.
Separately, a report showed November personal income rose
0.2 percent while spending rose 0.5 percent. Analysts expected
both to have risen 0.5 percent. The market wasn't impacted by
Retail stocks will be in focus in the final shopping days
leading up to Christmas. In a sign that this season may be a
difficult one for the sector, U.S. consumers shopped less during
the final weekend before Christmas despite deeper discounts,
according to analytics firm RetailNext.
"We're a little nervous about the holiday season," said
Pursche. "Sales have been strong, but there has been significant
discounting going on, especially in the middle-end section. That
could hurt the bottom line."
Target Corp may see particular trouble in the wake
of a massive data breach. The Wall Street Journal reported that
the retailer suffered reduced customer traffic over the weekend,
which is one of the busiest of the year. Shares fell 1.1 percent