Is the Dow Over the Fiscal Cliff?


Based on the market's reaction over the last several days, it seems like investors have forgotten about the fiscal cliff, or at least consider it priced into the market. For the fourth day in a row, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI) posted a gain, albeit in a small one today, climbing 15 points or 0.1%.

As the clock ticks away on the fiscal-cliff negotiations, again little progress was made today. President Obama dug in his heels further, saying that he "won't compromise" on tax hikes for the wealthy at a speech to auto workers in Michigan today. In the last week, a number of Republicans seem to have warmed up to the president's demand, and over the weekend a group of senators indicated a desire to raise taxes on the rich. Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee today said Republicans should let tax rates go up on the wealthy so that the debate could move on to entitlement reform.

In other government news, the Treasury Department said it would sell its remaining stake in AIG (NYS: AIG) , which comprises 15.9% of the company, or $7.8 billion. The shares will be priced in an offering at $32.50. Unsurprisingly, AIG shares dropped more than 2% on the news to $33.36 as the added supply should bring down the share price. The Treasury expects to end up with a $15.1 billion profit after bailing out the firm in 2008.

Elsewhere, tech stocks led the Dow as Hewlett-Packard (NYS: HPQ) and Cisco (NAS: CSCO) moved up 2.6% and 2.4%, respectively. HP shares jumped early today on rumors that corporate raider Carl Icahn was going to take a stake in the ailing PC maker. The rumors are just that right now, and HP has said it hasn't had any conversations with Icahn. Still, it's not a surprise to hear Icahn's name being mentioned with HP, which has been nothing short of a comedy of errors lately. Shares of HP have fully recovered since declining more than 10% after announcing earnings last month. Icahn also recently disclosed a stake in Netflix.

Cisco's gains came following the company's analyst day last Friday, where CEO John Chambers reassured investors that he expected 5% to 7% long-term annual growth. The company also announced a $125 million acquisition of Cloupia, a company that specializes in automating data centers.

Finally, McDonald's (NYS: MCD) was up more than 1% on improved same-store sales in November after dropping for the first time in more than eight years in October. Total comps rose 2.4%, and were up in all regions. The fast-food king has struggled this year amid a management change and a number of successful initiatives by its rivals.

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Jeremy Bowman has no positions in the stocks mentioned above. The Motley Fool owns shares of AIG and McDonald's and has the following options: long JAN 2014 $25.00 calls on AIG. Motley Fool newsletter services recommend AIG and McDonald's. 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.

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