Posting its fifth straight day of gains, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) rose again today amid sentiments that lawmakers were progressing toward a fiscal cliff deal. The Federal Reserve also convened today and will issue new projections on key economic figures tomorrow. The Fed is expected to announce whether it will continue its latest quantitative easing initiative, "Operation Twist," as well tomorrow, which may have left the markets hopeful for Wednesday. The Dow jumped 78 points, or 0.60%, to close at 13,248. The benchmark index has risen 8.4% on the year. 

Technology stocks highlighted the day's performers for a second straight day, with Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) leading the Dow upwards, logging 2.8% gains. Having badly underperformed the broader market this year, shares are due for a bit of a surge. The company trades at a P/E below 9 and divvies out an impressive 4.5% dividend. On the face of it, shares don't look too shabby from a valuation standpoint.

The question of the day with Intel is whether shares rose because of what its rival Texas Instruments (NASDAQ:TXN) is doing. The company narrowed its fourth-quarter revenue and earnings projections late yesterday and also announced a new mobile chip producing technology that should be ready next year. Shares traded higher all day today, closing up 4%. 

In a day that saw only four of the Dow's 30 components fall, Wal-Mart Stores (NYSE:WMT) was a notable underachiever, declining 1.7%. Shares in the mammoth retailer fell after political uproar from India, where leaders are alleging the bribery of Indian officials by the multinational corporate powerhouse. 

A much-needed reprieve from recent performance woes came today for Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) shareholders, who saw their shares rally more than 2% to close over the $540 mark. News that iPhone 5 preorders from a major Chinese telecom company tripled since last week encouraged the market. Higher projections for fourth-quarter iPhone activations by AT&T (NYSE:T) also boosted shares.

John Divine owns shares of Apple. You can follow him on Twitter, @divinebizkid, and on Motley Fool CAPS, @TMFDivine.

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