Fiscal-cliff discussions continue to move forward, and today they're giving stocks a boost, rather than holding them back. But the big reason stocks bounced at midday was a ratings upgrade for Greece's debt. Standard and Poor's lifted Greece's debt rating to "B-" -- six levels higher than it was previously. S&P's ratings bump wasn't due to an improving economy, but rather confidence that other Euro nations won't let the country go bankrupt. Markets took the news well: The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) is up 0.7% as of 2:25 p.m. EST, while the S&P 500 (SNPINDEX:^GSPC) is up 0.9%.
Tech stocks have led the rally today. Intel (NASDAQ:INTC), Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), and Nokia (NYSE:NOK) are all jumping after word came out that Verizon Wireless and Nokia are "planning a lot of exciting things." Nokia has bet its future on Windows Phone 8, and further adoption of this operating system would help all three companies. Intel will power mobile devices that run a version of Windows 8, so each has a vested interest in growing adoption of this platform. Right now, investors will take any sign of good news for these struggling stocks.
GE (NYSE:GE) was the biggest loser on the Dow today, falling 1.6%. The company is reportedly in discussions with Italian aerospace supplier Avio for a $4 billion acquisition. The company makes parts for GE's newest engine, and any potential deal is bound to be complex. Right now, investors are cringing at the price after CEO Jeff Immelt told investors he planned to spend just $1 billion to $3 billion on acquisitions.
Oil is up 1% today on the fiscal-cliff hope and the confidence in Europe. Meanwhile, gold is losing out, falling 1.5%. No one wants to pay more for gas, but the climbing price of oil can often be seen as an indicator that the economy is improving.
Fool contributor Travis Hoium manages an account that owns shares of Intel and Microsoft. You can follow Travis on Twitter at @FlushDrawFool, check out his personal stock holdings, or follow his CAPS picks at TMFFlushDraw.
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