The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) and the broader S&P 500 (SNPINDEX:^GSPC) are up 0.3% and 0.1%, respectively, as of 10 a.m. EST.

Fiscal-cliff watch
After Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner presented Republicans with a deficit-reduction plan on behalf of the President last Thursday, the Republicans have produced a "counter-offer." The White House has rejected it out of hand – returning the Republicans' courtesy from last week. To give an idea of the chasm that separates the two camps, Republicans are looking for $800 billion in additional taxes over 10 years through reduced deductions (no tax rate increases) -- just half of the $1.6 trillion the White House wants to generate in new revenue. This is not a good start to negotiations, but it was predictable, and it is a start.

The micro view
In this column last week, I referred to the trend of companies moving their dividend payouts forward or paying special dividends in anticipation of a potential dividend tax increase next year. Enterprise software giant Oracle (NYSE:ORCL) is now onboard: It will pay out $867 million as an $0.18 per-share dividend on Dec. 21, rather than the next three quarterly payments it would ordinarily have made. Oracle shareholders will appreciate the move. And if you already appreciate the wealth-building power of dividends, you're ready to "Secure Your Future With 9 Rock-Solid Dividend Stocks." Click here for your free report.

The macro view
Housing lives! Strong third-quarter earnings from Home Depot and Lowe's last month were an indication that the housing market is reviving. Today, homebuilder Toll Brothers (NYSE:TOL) reported earnings per share for its fiscal fourth quarter of $2.35, soundly beating the consensus estimate of $0.25, even after netting out a $350.7 million tax benefit the company received. Revenue rose 48% year on year to $632.8 million, well ahead of the $565 million estimate. The shares are up 1.5% as of 10:15 a.m. EST.


Alex Dumortier, CFA has no positions in the stocks mentioned above; you can follow him @longrunreturns. The Motley Fool owns shares of Oracle. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.