Stocks, banks gain on 'cliff' hope
NEW YORK -- Stocks closed higher Wednesday, their first gain of the week, as bank shares rose and comments by President Barack Obama made investors optimistic that a quick deal could be made to avoid the "fiscal cliff."
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 82.71 points to end at 13,034.49. It had been up as much as 137. The Standard and Poor's 500 closed up 2.23 points to 1,409.28. The Nasdaq composite was down 22.99 points to 2,973.70, held back by a slump in Apple.
Citigroup jumped $2.17, or 6.3 percent, to $36.46 after the bank said it plans to eliminate more than 11,000 jobs, or about 4 percent of its workforce, to cut expenses and improve efficiency. Travelers surged $3.47, or 4.9 percent, to $74 after it announced plans to resume stock buybacks. Travelers temporarily suspended repurchases following Superstorm Sandy while it assessed its exposure to damage claims.
Stocks have largely traded sideways for two weeks as investors wait for developments from Washington on crucial budget talks to avoid the "fiscal cliff," a series of sharp government spending cuts and tax increases scheduled to start Jan. 1 unless an agreement is reached to cut the budget deficit. Economists say that the measures, if implemented, could push the U.S. back into recession.