Why the Dow's Stuck in the Mud This Morning

Santa didn't bring investors the gift they wanted most: a resolution to the fiscal cliff stalemate that continues in Washington. President Obama expects to return to the White House tonight to get back to work on negotiations as Congress returns to session tomorrow. Yet, with only days before big tax increases and spending cuts take effect, investors appear to be preparing for the possibility of at least a temporary cliff-jump in 2013, albeit with the expectation that changes will be made retroactively to keep taxes low for at least a portion of U.S. taxpayers. Around 10:45 a.m. EST, the Dow Jones Industrials (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) inched up four points, while the S&P 500 and Nasdaq were both marginally lower on the session.

Among Dow stocks, Pfizer (NYSE: PFE  ) rose about 0.4% on news that its Eliquis blood thinner, which it developed with Bristol-Myers Squibb (NYSE: BMY  ) , received approval in Japan. With Europe and Canada already having approved the drug, the companies will now have to wait until the Food and Drug Administration considers Eliquis, with a decision expected in mid-March.

Disney (NYSE: DIS  ) fell about a third of a percent. The company managed to close on its $4 billion deal to buy Lucasfilm before the end of 2012, announcing the finalization of the deal last Friday. Getting the deal done was certainly beneficial for Lucasfilm owner George Lucas, who was likely trying to take advantage of low capital-gains rates before they expire at the beginning of 2013. Going forward, owning Lucasfilm will give Disney access to the same sort of blockbuster potential it has gained from Marvel and Pixar.

Finally, United Technologies (NYSE: UTX  ) fell by about a quarter-percent. The conglomerate announced over the weekend that it would sell its fuel cell business to ClearEdge Power, continuing its trend toward divesting non-core assets in an attempt to focus on its core businesses. With its recent acquisition of Goodrich, United Tech will give aerospace a key role in its future success going forward, and with conditions in the commercial aerospace market continuing to look favorable, the move appears well-timed.

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