Dec. 6, 2012 at 4:16 PM ET
The stock market eked out a small gain as investors keep their eyes closely focused on budget talks in Washington.
The Dow Jones industrial average climbed nearly 40 points to close at 13,074 Thursday. The Dow stayed in a narrow range and moved between small gains and losses.
The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose five points to 1,414 and the Nasdaq composite climbed 16 points to 2,989.
Apple rose 1.6 percent to $547.24, a day after taking its worst fall in four years. CEO Tim Cook said Apple will produce one of its Mac computers in the United States next year.
Rising stocks narrowly outnumbered falling ones on the New York Stock Exchange. Volume was lighter than usual at 3.1 billion shares.
Monthly payroll numbers, to be released Friday by the Labor Department, are expected to show a sharp slowdown in jobs growth because of Superstorm Sandy.
Apple's rank in China's smartphone market fell to No. 6 in the third quarter as it faces tougher competition from Chinese brands, research firm IDC said.
Broader moves were limited, however, as traders focused on the "fiscal cliff" debate. About three weeks remain before a series of tax increases and spending cuts would begin that could slow growth. Legislators are trying to come up with a deal to avoid some of the negative effects on the economy while still reducing the U.S. budget deficit.
While Republican leaders in the U.S. House of Representatives insist that raising tax rates on the rich is not negotiable, some GOP lawmakers now see it as inevitable to avoid the fiscal cliff.
"As we get close to the last two weeks, things will pick up," said Gordon Charlop, managing director at Rosenblatt Securities in New York. Congress and the White House will have final discussions near the end of the year about how to handle the "fiscal cliff," he said.
Without action from Congress, tax cuts on capital gains and dividends will expire at the end of 2012, which has contributed to selling certain stocks that have done extremely well in recent years, such as Apple.
The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.