U.S. lawmakers kept things exciting right up until the closing bell, as rumors of an eleventh-hour bipartisan alternative to a fiscal-cliff swan dive buoyed stocks in afternoon trading and sent the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI) back on the north side of 13,000. "After a bleak start, the day saw a grind higher as hopes continued to mount that the fiscal cliff would be averted by a last-minute deal," noted Schaeffer's Senior Options Strategist Tony Venosa. "It was great to see a broad-based rally, with all major sectors and industries closing in the black."
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The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI) traded in a 225-point range on the final day of the year, as fiscal-cliff gloom turned to hope in the early afternoon, allowing the blue-chip average to emerge from below the 13,000 level and close just shy of its intraday peak. By the end of the session, the Dow was up 166 points, or 1.3%. The Dow ended December with a gain of 0.6% but surrendered 2.5% for the quarter. In 2012, the average was up 7.3%.
Seeing similar intraday reversals, the S&P 500 Index (SPX) jumped 24 points, or 1.7%, while the Nasdaq Composite (COMP) added 59 points, or 2%. The SPX gained 0.7% for the month, lost 1% in the fourth quarter, and ended 2012 up 13.4%. The COMP's corresponding moves were 0.3%, negative 3.1%, and 15.9%, respectively.
The CBOE Market Volatility Index (VIX) took it on the chin as the fiscal-cliff situation neared resolution -- one way or another. By the close, the VIX had dropped 20.7%, or 4.7 points, to breach its 10-day moving average. Although the VIX added 13.5% in December and 14.6% in the quarter, it lost 23% in 2012.
3 Things to Know About Today's Market:
Plus ... the parent of the Los Angeles Times and the Chicago Tribune emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy, following four years of reorganization efforts. Tribune Company now owns 23 television stations and eight daily newspapers, but plans on selling most or all of the latter in order to focus on broadcast operations such as WGN America. Peter Liguori, who formerly served as chief operating officer for Discovery Communications (NASDAQ:DISCK), is expected to be named the firm's new CEO.
Today's Top Tweet:
"If 2013 is a book yet to be written then tomorrow is the first blank page. Let's get to work."
@crosshairtrader, (David Blair), 12:01 p.m.
5 Stocks We Were Watching Today:
Question of the Day:
Q: What were the best-performing stocks in 2012?
A: In this week's edition of Monday Morning Outlook, our Senior Quantitative Analyst Rocky White surveyed all stocks for notable action (to qualify, stocks had to be trading north of $5 at the beginning of the year and relatively active, with average daily volume of at least 1 million shares). Topping the charts as of Friday afternoon was 3D Systems (NYSE:DDD), up 251%. Next were Affymax (NASDAQ:AFFY) and homebuilder PulteGroup (NYSE:PHM), which each gained roughly 180% over the course of the calendar year.
For a look at today's options movers and commodities activity, head to page 2.
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