Stocks Waver on Fiscal Cliff Apprehension

Stocks opened little changed on Monday as investors awaited any sign of progress in talks to avert the United States’ so-called fiscal cliff of tax hikes and spending cuts. The Dow Jones industrial average lately gained 19.28 points, or 0.15 percent, to 13,174.41. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index was up 0.13 points, or 0.01 percent, to 1,418.20. The Nasdaq Composite Index rose 8.62 points, or 0.29 percent, to 2,986.66.

The White House and Republican House Speaker John Boehner met Sunday to discuss the fiscal cliff as some top Republicans signaled they are giving up their opposition to higher tax rates on the wealthy, the Financial Times reported.

Greece extended its offer to buy back debt until Tuesday, seeking more bids from bondholders after falling short of a target to retire bonds worth 30 billion euros at a cost of just 10 billion euros.

Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti plans to step down by year’s end instead of staying until his term expires in April. The Italian government is expected to pass the 2013 budget this month, and it was one of the last items on Monti’s agenda, The Wall Street Journal said.

McDonald’s Corp. (MCD) posted a surprise gain in U.S. same-store sales last month after a decline in October as the world’s largest restaurant chain increased advertising for less expensive items.

AIG has agreed to sell 90% of its airplane leasing business to a group of Chinese investors in a $5.8 billion deal, the New York Times reports.

Battery maker A123 Inc. has been sold to China’s Wanxiang Group Co. for $256.6 million. Wanxiang, China’s largest auto parts maker, outbid Johnson Controls Inc. for the Massachusetts-based company in a U.S. bankruptcy auction.

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