Stocks Ended Higher on Cliff Hopes

U.S. stocks closed with modest gains on Thursday as talks proceed in Washington over narrowing the U.S. government’s budget deficit. A pair of strong economic reports also brightened the mood. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 36.71 points, or 0.28%, to 13,021.82. The S&P 500 index climbed 6.02 points, or 0.43%, to 1,415.95. The Nasdaq Composite advanced 20.25 points, or 0.68%, to 3,012.03.

House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner said on Thursday that “fiscal cliff” talks with the White House had made no substantive progress and criticized President Barack Obama and Democrats for failing to get serious about including spending cuts in a final deal.

Zumiez Inc.’s (NASDAQ:ZUMZ) fiscal third-quarter earnings fell 10% amid charges related to its Blue Tomato acquisition though the teen apparel retailer continued to report sales growth. For the current quarter, Zumiez forecast per-share earnings of 59 cents to 62 cents on total sales of $218 million to $221 million. The outlook includes eight cents in acquisition-related charges.

Tiffany & Co. (TIF), the world’s second- largest luxury jewelry retailer, cut its annual profit forecast for the third time this year after higher diamond costs ate into margins and customers curbed spending in weak economies.

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