In afternoon trading Tuesday all three major index were sharply higher. The Dow Jones Industrial Average soared some 90 points by 2:30 p.m., the Standard & Poor's 500 Index climbed 11, and the Nasdaq jumped 33. That followed Monday's gains of 100.38 points, 16.78 points and 39.27 points, respectively.
With few economic releases scheduled for Tuesday, investors' focus was pinned on Washington. House Speaker John Boehner, R-OH, and U.S. President Barack Obama continued to haggle over a fiscal cliff deal, with the president making a counter offer late Monday.
Stock Market Today: What's on the MoveShares of Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) climbed more than 9 points with just two hours to go in trading. That was on top of the 9.04 points gained Monday. Shares have been under pressure lately following a handful of forecast cuts. Analysts cite a slowdown in iPhone5 shipments for the downgrades.
Financial stocks helped herald in Monday's rally and were instrumental in keeping the momentum going Tuesday. By midday, shares of Bank of America Corp. (NYSE: BAC) gained 1.73%, hitting a year high intraday, and Citigroup Inc. (NYSE: C) rose nearly 1%, just shy of a 52-week high. JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE: JPM), American Express Co. (NYSE: AXP) and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (NYSE: GS) also logged healthy gains.
Shares of Smith & Wesson Holding Corp. (Nasdaq: SWHC), maker of one of the guns used in last Friday's shooting rampage in Connecticut, tumbled more than 10%. to $7.74. Falling in concert were Sturm, Ruger & Co. (NYSE: RGR), plunging 8.30%, and Cabelas Inc. (NYSE: CAB), sliding 3.32%.
Homebuilder shares climbed after the NAHB Housing Market Index for December inched higher from the prior month. Also helping shares in this struggling sector was the fresh spate of data showing an uptick in home sales and housing permits, declining inventory levels and rising home prices. PulteGroup Inc. (NYSE: PHM), rose 3.3% and D.R. Horton Inc. (NYSE: DHI) gained close to 2%.
Insurer The Allstate Corp. (NYSE: ALL) got a boost after Deutsche Bank reaffirmed its "Buy" rating and $48 price target on shares. Allstate was last changing hands at $41.37.
Oracle Corp. (Nasdaq: ORCL) gained 1.3% ahead of Tuesday's close, when it will release earnings. Expectations are for the tech company to report earnings of 48 cents per share, up from 43 cents earned in the same period a year earlier. Oracle recently announced it was accelerating its second, third and fourth quarter dividends, totaling 18 cents per share, in anticipation of higher taxes next year.
In commodities, oil added almost a dollar to $88 a barrel.
With investors willing to take on more risk in light of the recent fiscal cliff deal developments, which actually haven't developed into much, or preferring to simply hold plain old cash, gold gave back $22 to $1,675 an ounce. Silver was down 57 cents to $31.71.
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