Stocks Opened Flat with Cliff in View

Stocks opened little changed on Tuesday as the market remains hostage to negotiations in Washington on how to avert a “fiscal cliff” that could push the U.S. economy into recession. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lately climbed 31.40 points, or 0.24%, to 12,997.00. The S&P 500 index rose 1.92 points to 1,411.38. The Nasdaq Composite fell 4.83 points to 2,997.37.

With a few weeks remaining before the onset of “fiscal cliff,” a bipartisan delegation of governors is set to meet Tuesday with President Barack Obama and congressional leaders in search of some answers about the impact of deficit reduction measures on their state budgets, which rely heavily on federal aid.

AutoZone Inc.(AZO) said Tuesday its first-quarter profit increased 6.4% to $203.5 million, or $5.41 a share, from $191.1 million, or $4.68 a share, in the year-ago period. Sales increased to $1.99 billion from $1.92 billion. Gross profit widened to 51.8% from 51.1% on better merchandise margins, which were driven by lower acquisition costs.

Cerberus Capital Management LP is in talks to join Virtu Financial LLC’s bid for U.S. brokerage Knight Capital Group Inc (KCG), the Wall Street Journal reported. Virtu and rival electronic trading firm Getco Holding Co have made competing bids for the Jersey City, N.J.-based Knight, valuing the company at a minimum of $1.1 billion.

Baxter International Inc ( BAX) said on Tuesday that it would buy privately held Swedish dialysis product company Gambro AB for about $4 billion to complement its kidney therapy portfolio. Gold prices fell sharply on Tuesday, dropping below the psychologically important level of $1,700, with one analyst saying there was a move to short the market during Asian trading hours.

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