Trader Frederick Reimer, right, works on the floor of the...

Trader Frederick Reimer, right, works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange Tuesday. Stocks opened higher Tuesday before a meeting of the Federal Reserve and possible additional steps to bolster the U.S. economy. (Dec. 11, 2012) Credit: AP

Stocks rose for a fifth straight day Tuesday as investors latched on to reports of progress in budget talks in Washington. The Standard & Poor's 500 index had its biggest gain this month.

The Dow Jones industrial average gained 78.56 points to 13,248.44. It was up as much as 137 points earlier in the day. The Standard & Poor 500 index finished up 0.65 percent at 1,427.84. The Nasdaq composite index was up 1.18 percent at 3,022.30.

The S&P and Nasdaq got a boost from Apple, which makes up 4 percent of the S&P and 11 percent of the Nasdaq. Apple isn't part of the Dow.

Apple advanced $11.57, or 2.2 percent, to $541.39, its biggest advance in more than a week. Apple had fallen sharply since closing at a record high of $702.10 on Sept. 19 as investors worried that the tech giant won't be able to maintain its rapid growth as competition in the smartphone market intensifies.

Stocks have edged up since the start of the month as investors watch for developments in the budget talks. Tax increases and federal spending cuts are scheduled to start Jan. 1 unless a deal is reached to reduce the U.S. budget deficit. Economists say the measures, if implemented, could eventually push the economy back into recession.

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