Markets began Wednesday morning in the red, but by 4 p.m. ET they had more than made up for the early losses, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) had jumped more than 106 points, or 0.83%, to close just a hair under 13,000, at 12,985. Investors were encouraged by reports that Speaker of the House John Boehner and President Obama seemed determined to overcome the fiscal cliff issue. Obama reportedly set a tentative deadline of Christmas as a time for when top officials need to have everything ironed out.

Of the 26 stocks with gains, three companies with losses, and one company trading sideways to end the day, Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ) gained 3% to be the top performer in the Dow. The company has had several days of strong trading recently, despite the controversy that continues to swirl around its $8.8 billion writedown. Autonomy's CEO wrote an open letter yesterday denying all charges of financial misconduct HP management made against the software company, acquired last year. HP, on the other hand, announced yesterday that it had uncovered new evidence to support its claims. 

Financial-payments company American Express (NYSE:AXP) was up nearly 2% today, participating in the broad market rally. One factor that may have been behind its big move was the extended duration of private debt to some current debtholders, meaning the company will have a longer time to fulfill those obligations. 

Chevron (NYSE:CVX) was the second best performer in the Dow today, doing its best to contribute to the broad rally, and gaining more than 2% itself. The oil company won a bid for oil rights off the Gulf of Mexico, sending shares higher.

Boeing (NYSE:BA) was one of the Dow's lonely three decliners, falling more than 0.5% as the unresolved fiscal cliff situation continues to cause some stirs. If the fiscal cliff -- which would cut billions in military and defense spending -- actually goes into effect on Jan 1, defense contractors like Boeing will undoubtedly be much the worse for it. Defense stocks will likely see a bounce if the fiscal cliff situation is officially resolved, but in the meantime the uncertainty won't help investor confidence with companies like Boeing.

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