All things considered, we should feel pretty good that the broad-based S&P 500 (SNPINDEX:^GSPC) actually rose by a fraction, 0.23 points (0.02%), to end at 1,416.18.

All eyes remain focused on the impending fiscal maelstrom that will combine across-the-board tax increases, with other not-so-wonderful features, like increased taxes on dividends and huge cuts in the defense sector. To curb this from happening, both political parties need to come together to forge an agreement, and according to House Speaker John Boehner, fiscal cliff discussions have gone "almost nowhere."

Without a prevailing theme moving the markets -- beyond the fiscal cliff -- individual movers within the S&P 500 were the stories of the day.

Leading the charge higher are chipmaker Advanced Micro Devices (NASDAQ:AMD) and mobile service provider MetroPCS Communications (NASDAQ:TMUS), which rose by 8% and 5%, respectively.

AMD's boost came from an announcement to sell its 58-acre Lone Star campus for possibly up to $200 million in an attempt to raise capital. Speculation that AMD could be a possible takeover candidate also continues to swirl.

MetroPCS, on the other hand, rallied after a research analyst at Guggenheim noted that Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S), which just received a huge investment by Japan's SoftBank, may make a counterbid to buy MetroPCS. If you recall, Deutsche Telekom's T-Mobile has already agreed to purchase MetroPCS, but Sprint, needing the spectrum and as many subscribers as it can get, may use its new found capital support from SoftBank to make a play for MetroPCS.

Lead the S&P 500 lower were dot-com registrar VeriSign (NASDAQ:VRSN) and finger-licking-good fast-food chain Yum! Brands (NYSE:YUM), which shed 13% and 10%.

For VeriSign, as my Foolish colleague Brian Pacampara noted earlier today, its dot-com registry approval agreement with the U.S. Department of Commerce through Nov. 30, 2018, was bittersweet. While the news is good that it can continue to operate its business, the Department of Commerce didn't grant VeriSign the right to boost prices automatically by 7% up to four times before the next approval period. Analysts are clearly concerned that there will be limited growth opportunities for VeriSign since 85% of its revenue comes from dot-com registry.

Yum! Brands, the company behind KFC and Taco Bell, dove after its upcoming outlook disappointed investors. Yum! blamed the majority of its weakness on a slowdown in China. Previously, Yum! worked to expand internationally where it now derives more than half of its revenue. Unfortunately, with China same-store sales expected to fall 4%, that's bad news for shareholders, and it could be enough of an impetus to slowdown the company's expansion efforts.

Just a hiccup
This clearly isn't Yum! Brands' finest moment, but our analysts have pegged the restaurant chain as one of the three American companies set to dominate in the emerging markets. If you'd like to find out which two other American companies they've selected, then click here for access to this latest special report.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.