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Apple Jumps on China Mobile Deal; Tiffany Loses in Arbitration

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With the final trading days of 2013 fast ticking away, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) tacked on another win to an already stellar year, pushing further into record territory. The blue chips finished up 73 points, or 0.5%, boosted by a strong consumer confidence report, which hit a five-month high today. After two months of strong economic reports, including back-to-back gains of 200,000 jobs in October and November, the consumer confidence report helps establish that the economic recovery is carrying over to consumers, who drive 70% of the country's economic activity. The University of Michigan's survey jumped from 75.1 in November to 82.5. While that was actually slightly lower than expectations, it's still a strong sign for the economy, as consumers pointed to improved job prospects and gains in stocks and property values as reasons for their restored faith.

Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL  ) shares got a 3.8% bounce today after the iPhone-maker signed a long-awaited deal with China Mobile. Apple's lack of a product placement in the biggest country in the world's No. 1 telecom provider was seen as the biggest surmountable obstacle facing the company. China Mobile gives the iPhone-maker access to a whopping 763 million subscribers, but Apple's phones are still believed to be pricey for the vast majority of Chinese consumers. The company was pooh-poohed back in September when it rolled out the iPhone 5c at a price point much higher than investors had hoped for. Still, the new China Mobile deal gives Apple access to a vast lower-end trove of customers if it should choose to target them in the future.

Tiffany (NYSE: TIF  ) shares finished the day essentially unchanged, falling 0.1%, as investors ignored news that the jewelry specialist was this morning ordered in arbitration to pay Swatch $449 million because of a breach of contract in their joint venture. The legal standoff began in 2011 when Swatch said Tiffany was impeding the development of its partnership, and Tiffany CEO Michael Kowalski said he was "shocked and extremely disappointed" by the arbitrators' decision. Still, investors seemed to brush off the report, as it won't affect operations going forward and the company has cash on hand to pay for it, even though the award amounts to about 4% of the company's market cap.

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