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Stocks inch up during fiscal cliff wrangling

Dec. 21, 2012 @ 12:00 AM

NEW YORK -- The stock market ended higher Thursday after flipping between small gains and losses throughout the morning. Uncertainty about the "fiscal cliff," just days away, was top of mind for many traders.

The Republican-controlled House pushed ahead with a bill aimed at averting the "fiscal cliff," but President Barack Obama has threatened to veto it and Democratic leaders in the Senate vowed to let it die.

Many traders now expect that the Republicans and Democrats won't reach an agreement before Christmas. The political haggling kept markets muted, and trading volume was low.

"Every time someone makes a speech, you get another move in the market," said Ben Fischer, founder and managing director of NFJ Investment Group in Dallas. "Everyone's just tracking it on a very short-term basis."

The Dow Jones industrial average fell as much as 36 points before ending the day higher, rising 59.75 points to close at 13,311.72. Other indexes followed similar patterns. The Standard & Poor's 500 rose 7.88 to 1,443.69. The Nasdaq composite index rose 6.02 to 3,050.39.

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