Stocks Flat as Fiscal-Cliff Negotiations Stall

Stocks moved sideways today as investors weighed a new offer from the GOP on the fiscal cliff and a quick rejection from President Obama. At least the talks are moving forward and we're seeing a little bit of daylight in negotiations. In late trading, markets shrugged at the news: The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) is up only 0.11% as of 3:15 p.m. EST, while the S&P 500 (SNPINDEX: ^GSPC  ) is down a fraction of a point.

Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ  ) is the big winner on the Dow, climbing 4.5% today. The company is recovering from the beating it took when it wrote off most of its Autonomy purchase. Today it came out with another acquisition, announcing it would buy Digital Risk for $175 million. I still don't see this as a long-term reason to buy the company, especially with PC sales in the dumps.

Intel (NASDAQ: INTC  ) had a rare good day, rising 2.4% after announcing a debt offering. The company filed paperwork with the SEC to raise an unspecified amount of debt, which it will likely use to buy back shares. An analyst from RBC estimates that the company will raise up to $3 billion with a coupon rate of 1.5% to 2%. We still don't know exact details, but it looks like management is more bullish on the company than the market is. That's good for investors (like me) who see a lot of value in this chip stock.

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Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT  ) is up 1.4% to come in third on the Dow. The stock goes ex-dividend tomorrow, meaning that if you own it tonight, you'll get in on the payout, which can attract investors. The problem is that the dividend is only $0.40, so there's no point in buying the dividend alone.

Gold actually fell 1.4% today on reports of short-selling in Asia. If the economy is going to struggle as we go over the fiscal cliff, I would expect gold to move higher, so this could be seen as another bullish sign for the economy.


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