Dec. 18, 2012 at 4:22 PM ET
Stocks rallied on Tuesday, capping off the S&P 500's best two-day run in a month, on confidence that a deal would be struck in Washington to avoid painful spending cuts and tax hikes that could hurt the economy.
According to preliminary calculations, the Dow Jones industrial average closed the day up 115.57 points, or 0.87 percent, to end at 13,350.96. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index advanced 16.43 points, or 1.15 percent, to finish unofficially at 1,446.79. The Nasdaq Composite Index was up 43.93 points, or 1.46 percent, to close unofficially at 3,054.53.
Sectors poised to grow during economic expansion led gains as investors remain confident that Washington will come to an agreement to avoid the "fiscal cliff" -- a series of spending cuts and tax hikes before the end of the year that could hurt economic growth.
Financial stocks rose sharply, as traders bet on a greater demand for loans and a steepening of the yield curve. U.S. government debt sold off Tuesday, with the benchmark yield briefly hitting its highest since late October.
President Barack Obama's most recent offer to Republicans in the ongoing budget talks makes concessions on taxes and social programs spending. House Speaker John Boehner said the offer is "not there yet," though he remains hopeful about an agreement. Senate Democrats, however, have expressed concern about cuts to Social Security.
Shares of firearm makers sank in the aftermath of a school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, on Friday that killed 20 children and six adults.
Smith and Wesson fell 10.8 percent to $7.72 on its largest ever daily volume, though it was still up 77 percent so far this year. Sturm Ruger and Co slid 8.2 percent Tuesday to $40.39.
Technology shares rose led by Apple , up 2.3 percent above $530 after losing nearly 13 percent in the last two weeks. The S&P Information Technology Index rose 1.5 percent.
Arbitron surged 23.6 percent to $47 after Nielsen Holdings NV agreed to buy the media and marketing research firm in a deal worth $1.26 billion. Nielsen rose 3.1 percent to $30.55.
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