(MENAFN - ProactiveInvestors - Australia) U.S. equity markets were higher Tuesday afternoon amid signs of progress on Capitol Hill in reaching an accord to avoid the looming "fiscal cliff".
The market also received a very welcome shot in the arm after positive news out of Europe after the news that Standard and Poor's had boosted Greece's credit rating by several notches.
By the close the Dow Jones had gained 116 points to 13,351, while the NASDAQ jumped 44 points to 3055.
On the economic front, a gauge of confidence amongst home builders rose in December to the highest level since April 2006, a trade group said Tuesday.
The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index rose two points to a seasonally adjusted level of 47 - matching estimates from analysts polled by MarketWatch - from a downwardly revised 45 in November. A prior estimate for November pegged the level at 46.
The amount the U.S. owes to the rest of the world - the current-account deficit - fell sharply for the second straight quarter, reaching its lowest in nearly two years. The U.S. current-account balance fell to 107.5 billion in the third quarter, 9 per cent below an upwardly-revised 118.1 billion in the second quarter, the Commerce Department said.
U.S. Corporate News
In corporate news, Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) shares moved higher after Samsung Electronics withdrew injunction requests against the iPod maker in several European countries.
The news follows the rejection of Apple's request to ban Samsung phones from sale in the U.S. by a federal judge in San Francisco. The ruling means Samsung can continue to sell three of the older-generation smartphones still available in the U.S. that a jury in August found had used Apple's technology.
Stock in gun-makers fell in the wake of a recent school shooting in Connecticut. Although their firearms were not involved, Smith & Wesson (NASDAQ:SWHC) was down 10% and Sturm Ruger & Co. (NYSE:RGR) fell about 7%.
Research In Motion (NASDAQ:RIMM)(TSE:RIM) stock was down around 2% following a downgrade to "Sector Perform" by National Bank (TSE:NA).
FactSet Research (NYSE:FDS) shares fell over 4% after the company reported earnings for its first quarter that were in line with estimates, but also forecast second quarter profit and revenue would be flat to slightly higher on a sequential basis.
Investment bank Jefferies Group (NYSE:JEF) Tuesday posted 48% earnings growth in the fiscal fourth quarter, beating analyst estimates as revenue from trading surged.
U.S. chicken producer Sanderson Farms (NASDAQ:SAFM) posted fiscal fourth quarter results that beat analyst expectations thanks to higher poultry prices, sending shares slightly higher on Tuesday.
Insurer American International Group (NYSE:AIG) late Monday said it is selling its remaining stake in Hong Kong-based AIA Group Ltd. (HKG:1299) for about 6.45 billion.
Media ratings company Nielsen Holdings (NYSE:NLSN) Tuesday purchased radio audience ratings company Arbitron (NYSE:ARB) for approximately 1.26 billion.