US stocks up as Apple’s shares lift the market

US stocks rose yesterday, led by gains in technology companies, helping the S&P 500 end at its highest level since Election Day.

A 2.2 per cent gain to $541.39 in Apple’s stock lifted the Nasdaq, as the largest US company by market value rebounded from a week in which investors took profits before a possible tax rise next year. Prior to yesterday’s trading, Apple shares had lost 25 per cent from an all-time intraday high hit in September.

Stocks pared some gains by late afternoon as more news on the “fiscal cliff” negotiations emerged. US Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said it will be difficult to reach agreement resolving the cliff tax hikes and spending cuts before Christmas.

“There’s been a real explosion in anxiety over this thing. Because markets have become the way they are, you've got people just stepping back,” said James Dailey, portfolio manager of TEAM Asset Strategy Fund in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

“There’s a tremendous absence of liquidity in the market,” he said.

The S&P 500 had lost 5.3 per cent in the seven sessions following Election Day as investors refocused on the threat posed to the economy by the fiscal cliff, a series of automatic spending cuts and tax increases. Markets have mostly recovered those losses, but volume has been thin, suggesting investors are not betting aggressively due to the uncertainty.

The Dow Jones industrial average was up 78.56 points, or 0.60 per cent, at 13,248.44. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index was up 9.29 points, or 0.65 per cent, at 1,427.84.

The Nasdaq Composite Index was up 35.34 points, or 1.18 per cent, at 3,022.30.