Hope for Compromise on Fiscal Cliff Boosts Stocks

In a strange turn for markets, the old and stodgy Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) has jumped 0.91% today, while the S&P 500 (SNPINDEX: ^GSPC  ) is up just 0.45% and the tech-centric Nasdaq (NASDAQINDEX: ^IXIC  ) is down 0.43%. So what's going on?

The jump on the Dow came as Congress appeared to get serious about compromising on the fiscal cliff. Forty Republicans signed a letter urging that "all options," including taxes and entitlement reform, be put on the table. We're less than a month away from the fiscal cliff, and there doesn't appear to be an imminent deal, but the tone makes me think we'll get a deal done.

Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL  ) got a lot of the attention today after it fell 4.9% today on a mix of news. There were reports that brokerages were requiring higher margins for shares of Apple, and a research report said the company may lose market share in tablets. Apple's sheer size has a big impact on both the Nasdaq and the S&P, so that's one reason those indexes are underperforming the Dow today.

There is a debate raging as to whether Apple remains a buy, and for today the bears have taken control. The Motley Fool's senior technology analyst and managing bureau chief, Eric Bleeker, is prepared to fill you in on reasons both to buy and to sell Apple, as well as what opportunities remain for the company (and your portfolio) going forward. To get instant access to his latest thoughts on Apple, simply click here now.

On the Dow, 26 of 30 components are in positive territory. Bank of America (NYSE: BAC  ) jumped 6% on hope of a fiscal-cliff deal. The stock has been up and down on the daily rumors about the fiscal cliff because it's so leveraged to economic growth in the U.S. A deal will continue to boost the stock, and a recession could sink it.

Travelers (NYSE: TRV  ) was the other big mover of note on the Dow, jumping 5%. The company said its net loss related to Hurricane Sandy would be about $650 million, but it was the company's share repurchase program that had investors jumping for joy. Travelers suspended its share repurchase program after the hurricane, but it said today it will resume the program, which investors see as a sign of financial health.

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