By Kate Gibson, MarketWatch
NEW YORK (MarketWatch) -- U.S. stocks gave up most of their gains Thursday as House Speaker John Boehner told a televised news conference that "no substantive progress" had been made in talks to reach a budget deal.
The Ohio Republican declared Democrats were "not serious" about spending cuts.
After a 77-point rise, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI) was lately off 8.27 points, or 0.1%, to 12,976.84.
Walt Disney Co. (DIS) shares climbed after the entertainment company and Dow component hiked its dividend.
The S&P 500 index (SPX) rose 1.64 point to 1,411.57. The Nasdaq Composite (RIXF) gained 10.30 points, or 0.3%, to 3,002.08.
For every five stocks falling nine gained on the New York Stock Exchange, where composite volume neared 1.5 billion by 12 p.m. Eastern.
U.S. stocks had extended gains into a second day as investors bet on at least a short-term fix to avert the so-called fiscal cliff.
"I'm still expecting a deal. On the tax side, 98% of Americans will get to keep their Bush tax cuts on a permanent basis. Both sides of the partisan divide agree that this should happen. That's actually a very big deal, and very good for the economy," offered Ed Yardeni, chief investment strategist at Yardeni Research Inc., in a research note.
The move into riskier assets weakened the U.S. dollar (DXY) and Treasurys, with commodity prices including oil and gold rising.
On Thursday, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and another senior White House aide had separate visits planned to Capitol Hill for talks with congressional leaders on averting automatic spending cuts and tax hikes set to begin in 2013.
"The Democrats want to raise the top two tax rates, which apply to the top 2% of Americans earning $250,000 or more. The Republicans oppose doing so. Nevertheless, an outline of a compromise is taking shape," said Yardeni.
Thursday's economic reports drew little response from investors, who lately have bypassed any data in favor of paying attention solely to any developments related to the budget talks.
The session's U.S. economic reports included the National Association of Realtors saying pending-home sales rose 5.2% in October, illustrating ongoing recovery in the housing market.
The U.S. economy expanded more than initially projected in the third quarter, the Commerce Department reported, with the nation's economic growth rising to 2.7% in the period, up from an initial estimate of 2% but just under estimates calling for a 2.8% rise.
Separately, the Labor Department said claims for unemployment benefits declined by 23,000 to 393,000 last week, with the decline not as much as expected.
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