Stock prices moved higher on Thursday on a glimmer of hope the debate over the "fiscal cliff" may result in positive action.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 59.75 points to 13,311.72, its third rise in the past four sessions. The Nasdaq Composite Index gained 6.02 points to 3,050.39, and the S&P 500 Stock Index added 7.88 points to 1,443.69.
The markets reacted to positive news on housing. The National Association of Realtors reported existing home sales rose 5.9 percent in November to an annualized rate of 5.04 million units, the highest number since November 2009. Initial claims for jobless benefits rose 17,000 to 361,000 in the week ended Dec. 15.
Gold dropped $21.80 to $1,645.90 an ounce and oil gained 15 cents to $90.13 a barrel.
NYSE Euronext (NYSE: NYX) rose a record 34 percent as IntercontinentalExchange Inc. (NYSE: ICE) agreed to buy the company for $8.2 billion. Accenture Plc (NYSE: ACN) slid 2 percent after revenue from technology consulting fell 3.6 percent from a year earlier. Merck & Co. (NYSE: MRK) slipped 3.4 percent after saying it won’t seek U.S. marketing approval for a cholesterol drug. Financial stocks rose the most in the S&P 500, leading gains in all 10 groups.
“The market continues to be driven by the state of the fiscal-cliff negotiations,” said Peter Jankovskis, who helps oversee $3 billion of assets as co-chief investment officer at Lisle, Ill.-based Oakbrook Investments LLC. “That’s what people are keeping an eye on, and that’s what is causing the swings in the market.”
Stocks also advanced after third-quarter economic growth was revised higher. The 3.1 percent growth in gross domestic product exceeded the highest projection in a Bloomberg survey and compared with a previously estimated 2.7 percent gain, according to Commerce Department figures. The median estimate of economists called for a 2.8 percent advance.
Republicans in Congress called off a vote Thursday on Boehner’s plan to raise taxes on incomes over $1 million. The proposal was aimed at preventing more than $600 billion of automatic tax increases and spending cuts from coming into effect next year.
Boehner accused Obama of being unwilling to stand up to fellow Democrats in the fight over how to avert spending cuts and tax increases scheduled to begin in January.
Video-game makers and retailers fell amid growing pressure from Washington and advocacy groups concerned about possible links between violent games and tragedies like the school massacre in Newtown, Conn. A bill introduced Wednesday by U.S. Senator Jay Rockefeller directs the National Academy of Sciences to examine whether violent games and programs lead children to act aggressively, the West Virginia Democrat said in a statement.
Electronic Arts Inc. (Nasdaq: EA), publisher of “Medal of Honor,” fell 3.2 percent to $13.94. Take-Two Interactive Software Inc. (Nasdaq: TTWO), the maker of “Grand Theft Auto,” fell 2.4 percent to $11.69. GameStop Corp. (NYSE :GME), the video-game chain, slid 5.2 percent to $26.13.
Carnival Corp. (NYSE: CCL) slumped 5.3 percent to $36.99. The world’s biggest cruise-line operator provided a full-year earnings forecast that fell short of analysts’ forecasts. The company said earnings will rise to as much as $2.40 a share next year, excluding some items. Analysts predicted $2.46 a share, the average of estimates compiled by Bloomberg.
Illumina Inc. (Nasdaq: ILMN) jumped 7.8 percent to $56.22 after Swiss newspaper L’Agefi said Roche Holding AG may buy the U.S. genetic-sequencing company for $66 a share, a higher price than its first bid in April. The newspaper said it failed to verify the source of the information.
Bed Bath & Beyond Inc. (Nasdaq: BBBY) lost 6.5 percent to $56.36. The operator of more than 1,400 home-furnishing stores projected full-year profit that trailed analysts’ estimates. Profit will be $4.48 to $4.54 a share this year, the retailer said Wednesday. Analysts projected $4.62 a share, the average of 25 estimates compiled by Bloomberg.
Rite Aid Corp. (NYSE: RAD) soared 16 percent to $1.21. The third-largest U.S. drugstore chain gained the most in more than three years after forecasting better full-year results and returning to a profit in the third quarter.
Amicus Therapeutics Inc. (Nasdaq: FOLD) slumped 47 percent to $3.06 after saying a drug it was developing with GlaxoSmithKline Plc (NYSE: GSK) failed to perform better than a placebo.
CarMax Inc. (NYSE: KMX) jumped 9 percent to $37.97. The largest U.S. seller of used cars rose to a record as increased vehicle sales drove quarterly profit that beat analysts’ estimates.