Stocks held back by fiscal-cliff worries

The major averages end the day little changed in light Veterans Day trading. Tuesday's market may open lower. Titanium Metals and Jefferies Group jump on merger announcements. Gilead Sciences rises on hopes for hepatitus treatment. Apple slips again.

By Charley Blaine Nov 12, 2012 5:19PM
Updated: 3:32 a.m., Wednesday

(Reuters) - Stocks pushed higher Monday as bargain-hunters emerged after last week's selloff, though concerns of a drawn-out battle over the "fiscal cliff" put a cap on gains.

Barclays cut its year-end target for the Standard & Poor's 500 Index ($INX) to 1,325 from 1,395, citing the government spending cuts and tax increases that will take effect early next year unless Congress acts before then.

The S&P 500 dropped 2.4% last week, the worst week for the index since June. The drop was partly propelled by concerns about whether there will be a timely solution to avoid the "fiscal cliff," the combination of tax increases and federal spending cuts set to take effect on Dec. 31.

At the close, the Dow Jones industrials ($INDU) were flat at 12,815. The S&P 500 was flat at 1,380, and the Nasdaq Composite Index ($COMPX) dropped 1 point to 2,904.

The Nasdaq-100 Index ($NDX) dropped 1 point to 2,583. Apple (AAPL), the biggest influence on the index, was off $4.23 to $542.83, its fourth loss in five days.

Though most consider it unlikely that a deal will not be reached, analysts fear going over the cliff could push the economy back into recession. There are also concerns that a protracted debate could hurt business and investment sentiment.

"It's just the uncertainty. It's going to continue to have that negative influence on any kind of small business growth or hiring or planning," said Alan Lancz, president of Alan B. Lancz & Associates in Toledo, Ohio.

"You not only have it for small businesses and the like, but on the investor side, too."

Stocks traded little changed for much of the day. A late afternoon rally faded at the close. Volume was light, with the U.S. bond market and government offices closed for the Veterans Day holiday.

But futures trading early Tuesday suggests a potentially nasty open. Weighing on Asian and European markets were worries about the U.S. fiscal cliff.

Eurozone finance ministers last night postponed agreement on Greece’s long-delayed 31.3-billion euro ($40 billion U.S.) aid payment for yet another week as divisions between the International Monetary Fund and EU creditors over how fast Athens must reduce its burgeoning debt levels burst into the open.

Earnings are due from Dow components Home Depot (HD) and Cisco Systems (CSCO) as well as upscale retailers Michael Kors (KORS) and Saks (SKS) and discount retailer TJX companies (TJX).

Crude oil (-CL) settled down 50 cents to $85.57 a barrel in New York; Brent crude was down 33 cents to $109.07 a barrel in London.

Gold (-GC) settled unchanged at $1,730.90 an ounce in New York.

Energy prices -- New York close

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Gilead Sciences (GILD) helped pull the Nasdaq higher after the company reported over the weekend a 100% cure rate using a combination of drugs in a small number of patients with the most common and hardest to treat form of hepatitis C. Gilead was up $8.91 to $73.92.

The S&P 500 is still up about 10% for 2012, though recent months have eroded those gains. The Nasdaq has fallen for five straight weeks.

Some major acquisition news gave investors reason for optimism on Monday. Precision Castparts (PCP) ]offered to buy Titanium Metals (TIE) for $2.9 billion, while Leucadia National (LUK) agreed to buy investment bank Jefferies Group (JEF) for $3.6 billion.

Shares of Titanium surged $4.93 to $16.50 while Jefferies climbed $2 to $16.27. Precision rose $8.36 to $179.69. Leucadia fell 66 cents to $21.14.

Overseas, a report over the weekend showed China's export growth climbed to a five-month high, beating expectations and adding to recent data suggesting the country's seven straight quarters of slowing economic growth have ended.

Investors also watched the latest developments from the euro zone debt crisis. Euro zone governments will not agree to disburse more money to debt-ravaged Greece on Monday, despite the country's approving a tough 2013 budget, because there is not yet a consensus on how to make its debts sustainable into the next decade.

As a result, the region's finance ministers may have to talk again later this week.

Short hits from the markets -- New York close



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U.S. bond markets were closed Monday for the Veterans Day.

-- Charley Blaine contributed to this report.
Nov 13, 2012 12:16AM
Chucky.. if real estate drops and we have inflation "rear it's ugly head big time," won't real estate be up again?
Nov 12, 2012 11:57PM
Folks...I hate to shatter your ball of illusion, but... America is Bankrupt! Real estate is going to drop, inflatin is going to rear it's ugly head BIG TIME, and the stock market is going to crash...And there is absolutely nothing anyone can do about it.
Nov 12, 2012 11:55PM
Meanwhile today in the background news the SEC decided to fine JP Morgan and a few other banks CEO and senior managers on the basis that it would be under the condition of no admission of guilt and no criminal charges could be brought against them in the future. These were the results of SEC investigations of fraud and conspiracy in the handling of investment monies and derivatives. In other words they found them guilty and let them buy their way out of it.
     The Fed, the SEC, and the whole Congress of these great United States of America should be brought to trial and hung for treason against the people of this country.
      Worst than that, they're gonna pay it(the fine) off with the money they stole from you.

Nov 12, 2012 11:39PM
When TEXAS leaves  can they take CALIFORNIA with them ?
Nov 12, 2012 11:18PM

Heck yea... Let Texas go!

But only if they KEEP DUBYA.

Nov 12, 2012 10:51PM
TEJAS...Just happened to be basically what the Original Inhabitants of Texas called it..The Apache.
Nov 12, 2012 10:48PM

Well the Markets are up and down....No doubt about that...


But damn little chance of us putting all our retirement on red or black or a turn of a card.

I will stick with Wall St...And hopefully pick the best companies I can to invest in...??

At least get most of it right..

Not much of a sucker's rally today guy...Little volitility(sp)

Nov 12, 2012 10:09PM
You would have better luck gambling in Las Vegas than investing in the stock market....the average american don't stand a chance to insider traders and the rich who pay for insider information.
Nov 12, 2012 10:00PM

So the Fiscal Clif is $607b or 3.8% of GDP. So let's breakdown the numbers. $265b of tax increases $210 for middle and $55b for top earners. $160b Budget Control Act cuts to defense and other categories. $140b in SS tax cuts and UE extensions end. $24b in Affordable Care Act taxes on passive income start. $105b in AMT taxes on table but are postponed every year. So we really have $510b in tax increases and $160b in spending cuts. The AMT will never happen. The ACA will definitely happen. The 2% SS tax cut should and will expire. The UE extensions will be extended. The $55b taxes on the top will be repealed. The $160b in spending cuts will be cut in half.

Nov 12, 2012 9:59PM
Like we said before, all we had earlier today was another sucker's rally; these scumbags know what they are doing and will never try to stop bringing these markets down...We were able to end the day flat; normally flat is good, but after last week's Obama selloff, we are way behind...Oh well, maybe we can make something good happen tomorrow.
Nov 12, 2012 9:45PM
I could only dream....even if it was wet...woooohooooo, yippeeeeekayeyiiiiiii !!
Nov 12, 2012 9:40PM

I think it would be interesting to see Tejas secede from the Union or Republic...

We would not include them in NAFTA....Build an illegal wall on their Northern borders..

No legal immigration period to the States for at least 10 years.

Figure they would be eating their own young within 5 years..

Probably a couple years after that, they would expect us to fight Mexico..ONCE AGAIN; so they could be/remain "free"......No way, Jose.


LMAO at just the thought...Yup "no child left behind", "no brains anywhere either".

Nov 12, 2012 9:23PM
Hey MSN, what happened to the mid-day headline, "Investors buy up cheap stocks" when the market was up a mere 25 points?  You guys are nothing but retarded corporate puppets, not journalists.  Pathetic!
Nov 12, 2012 9:19PM

Don`t worry about the fiscal cliff.It will be fixed soon and the Dow will crash throught

14,000.Then the Repubs will find something else to character assasinate Obama for.

Nov 12, 2012 9:17PM

The Fiscal Cliff has been just over the next hill for about/or almost 6 years now...

And damn funny that none of you have realized it until this past week or so....?

So your credibility is pretty much ZILCH with me; Care to discuss anything else....EXCEPT,


Nov 12, 2012 9:10PM

Today was another test to see what kind of ****ou all have....


May the upper levels of management and all the executive board at "Houston based"  Twinkies or Hostess Corporation.....Burn in Hell...


A Bain Capital type...Vulture organization such as they are; Threatening the fabric of America to have it "Their way or the Highway" and America caves with them...They are Capitalist Thugs and many of you applaud their decisions...They have made it well known, that they know how to play the numbers and they will win at any cost...A hundred year (100) old Company to go down the drain with no thoughts of any compromise....I can't wait for the same agenda to show up at the door of where you work...

It will be interesting to hear the whining from many of you....

Nov 12, 2012 9:04PM
WHO do we the american people hold responsible for our demise ?


Nov 12, 2012 8:44PM
Fiscal cliff, Fiscal cliff, Fiscal cliff.... on and on and on. I've got some real news for ya....WE ALREADY WENT OFF THE CLIFF!!!
Nov 12, 2012 8:39PM
Funny. There was supposed to have been some kind of fiscal cliff back when the United States started closing factories and shipping tens of millions of manufacturing jobs overseas. Back then Americans were told how America would become a service economy. Funny how a country that doesn't make anything has become nothing. Funny how that whole service economy thing worked out. And now our service economy is going down the tubes. The big box operations like WalMart and Best Buy are having problems making a go of it. Even Mickey Ds has problems. Even the original big box stores like. J.C. Pennys. Sears. All going bye bye. The fiscal cliff has already come and gone. This thing Americans are looking at now is the "Welcome to the Banana Republic." And we should all be glad. Finally, an economy that cannot support a military or endless wars. With all the money gone, maybe we can finally see the end of Wall Street and get back to Main Street.  Maybe another recession so soon after the first one that didn't end will wake some people up. Maybe enough private and public pensions will go away so that the American people finally rise up against this evil. One can only hope.
Nov 12, 2012 8:27PM

Well Texas' secession petition is growing by leaps and bounds!  Over 34,000 signatures in two days when it need 25,000 in 30 for the President to make a statment.


"When" they secede, do you think fuel prices will skyrocket, seeing as to they have quite a few refineries and vast portions of our nations natural gas and oil fields?  Not to mention the energy they sell to CA and NV......


Laugh now, but when it happens it will bring this nation to its knees.

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