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Optimism on 'cliff' lifts stocks

House Speak John Boehner (R-Ohio) winces while talking

House Speak John Boehner (R-Ohio) winces while talking to a reporter Tuesday on the way to a closed-door meeting with House Republicans in Washington, D.C., as he negotiates with the president to avert the fiscal cliff. (Dec. 18, 2012) Photo Credit: AP

Stocks climbed yesterday, pushing the Standard & Poor's 500 index to its highest level in two months, on optimism that lawmakers are closing in on a budget deal that will stop the United States from going over the "fiscal cliff" at the beginning of next year.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 115.57 points to 13,350.96, its biggest one-day gain in almost a month. The Standard & Poor's 500 rose 1.15 percent to 1,446.79, its highest close since Oct. 18. The Nasdaq composite index rose 1.46 percent to 3,054.53.

House Speaker John Boehner told reporters he remains hopeful a fiscal cliff compromise can be reached, but says President Barack Obama has yet to offer a balanced deficit-cutting plan. The White House says President Obama has moved halfway to meet Boehner on a budget deal.

"People are cheering the prospect for some compromise in Washington right now," said Joe Costigan, director of equity research at Bryn Mawr Trust Co.

Stocks added to their gains after the Standard & Poor's rating agency said at midday that it had raised Greece's credit grade by six notches to B-, lifting the country out of default. The ratings firm said the other 16 countries using the euro are determined to keep Greece inside the currency union.

-- AP

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