Stocks Inch Higher as McDonald's, HP and Cisco Advance
Meanwhile, as investors remained jittery about the political upheaval in Italy and the progress of averting the U.S. "fiscal cliff," Reuters reported that the Bank of Japan will likely ease monetary policy next week as the country's outlook continues to be clouded by the potential fallout from the U.S. budget and soft Chinese growth.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed up 15 points, or 0.11%, to 13,170. The blue-chip index, which came off a one-month closing high, began the session up more than 7.5% in 2012.
Hewlett-Packard shares jumped 2.6% amid rumors that billionaire activist investor Carl Icahn could be amassing a stake in the PC maker.
McDonald's shares added 1.1% after the fast-food giant reported an increase of 2.4% in global same-store sales for November, exceeding the average analyst estimate of only 0.1%, helped by the popularity of a breakfast menu in the U.S., and value meals and meal combinations in Europe. In October, McDonald's had posted its first decline in monthly sales in nine years.
In the broader market, most sectors were in the green, led by advances in the transportation, technology, basic material and healthcare sectors. Only the consumer-cyclical and financial sectors slumped.
Volumes reached 2.96 billion shares on the New York Stock Exchange, and were also weak at 1.52 billion shares on the Nasdaq. Advancers edged decliners 1.2-to-1 on the Big Board and 1.3-to-1 on the Nasdaq.