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Stock Market News for December 11, 2012

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The absence of any major domestic developments meant benchmarks ended the trading session with paltry gains. The paltry upside that came was propelled by the technology sector. McDonald’s posted strong monthly sales, which also helped the blue-chip index add to its gains. However, the meager gains were enough to help the Dow Jones and S&P 500 hit their highest level since this year’s Election Day. Meanwhile, Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti surprised investors after he said he will step down at the end of year. The consumer discretionary sector was the biggest loser among the S&P 500 industry groups.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI) gained 0.1% to close the day at 13,169.88. The Standard & Poor 500 (S&P 500) rose 0.03% to finish yesterday’s trading session at 1,418.55. The tech-laden Nasdaq Composite Index added 0.3% to end at 2,986.96. The fear-gauge CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) surged 0.9% to settle at 16.05. Consolidated volumes on the New York Stock Exchange, American Stock Exchange and Nasdaq were roughly 5.3 billion shares, significantly lower than the daily average of 6.5 billion shares. Advancing stocks outpaced decliners on the NYSE; as for 53% stocks that rose, 43% stocks moved lower.

Benchmarks opened flat on Monday in the absence of any major economic reports. However, benchmarks managed to post paltry gains by the end of the day boosted by the technology sector and McDonald’s. The Dow and the S&P 500 finished in the green for the fourth consecutive day. However, the S&P 500 has not moved by more than 0.5% in either direction so far this month.

President Barack Obama and the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives John Boehner met on Sunday to discuss the Fiscal Cliff dilemma. However, both sides refused to provide any details about Sunday’s meeting at the White House. On Monday, President Obama visited Michigan to gather public support to increase tax rates for rich Americans. The Fiscal Cliff dilemma needs to be solved within three weeks; otherwise its effect will be felt starting 2013.

McDonald's Corporation (NYSE:MCD) surged 1.1% after the company recorded better-than-expected monthly sales. The company’s sales increased 2.4% globally in November, rebounding from a decline in October. The decline in October was the first contraction in nearly ten years.
On the international front, Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti said he will step down after the approval of the country’s 2013 budget. Monti’s decision to resign came after former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi withdrew his support from Monti’s party.  According to experts, Monti’s resignation further intensifies Euro zone troubles.

The technology sector had a good run yesterday and the Technology SPDR (XLK) gained 0.3%. Stocks such as Hewlett-Packard Company (NYSE:HPQ), Dell Inc. (NASDAQ:DELL), Silicon Graphics International Corp (NASDAQ:SGI), Cisco Systems, Inc. (NASDAQ:CSCO) and Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) jumped 2.6%, 1.7%, 3.4%, 2.4% and 1.8%, respectively.

The consumer discretionary sector was the biggest loser among the S&P 500 industry groups and the Consumer Discretionary SPDR (XLY) lost 0.6%. Stocks such as Target Corporation (NYSE:TGT), Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE:WMT), Macy's, Inc. (NYSE:M), Kohl's Corporation (NYSE:KSS) and Dollar General Corp. (NYSE:DG) lost 0.5%, 0.2%, 0.2%, 1.0% and 0.5%, respectively.

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