NEW YORK (Reuters) - Stocks rose on Monday, aided by gains in McDonald's and technology stocks, but moves remained muted as investors looked for any signs of movement on the "fiscal cliff" front.
Developments in Europe also served to keep sentiment in check as Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti said he would resign once the 2013 budget is approved. The move added to uncertainty about progress being made to tackle the euro zone's debt problem and drove Italy's borrowing costs higher.
U.S. President Barack Obama met with Republican House Speaker John Boehner on Sunday to negotiate a deal for avoiding the "fiscal cliff" set to go into effect in the new year.
The two sides declined to provide details about the unannounced meeting. Obama is expected to make remarks at 2 p.m. (1900 GMT) from Michigan where he is touring an auto plant.
The fiscal cliff talks have kept markets on edge in the last month as investors worry that the scheduled tax hikes and budget cuts could send the U.S. economy into recession if politicians do not reach a deal.
But the heightened rhetoric and lack of substantial progress has also handcuffed the equities market. The benchmark S&P 500 index has yet to see a move greater than 0.5 percent in either direction for December, and hasn't moved more than 1 percent either way since November 23.
"What we have been seeing is any headline that emanates from anywhere in the world will drive the market pretty quickly one way or the other," said Keith Bliss, senior vice-president at Cuttone & Co, in New York.
"People are out of the market if they have already got their gains (for the year) and the other thing is anybody that is in the market is just kind of sitting around waiting."
The Dow got its biggest lift from McDonald's Corp
The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> gained 34.89 points, or 0.27 percent, to 13,190.02. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> added 2.78 points, or 0.20 percent, to 1,420.85. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> advanced 12.79 points, or 0.43 percent, to 2,990.83.
Technology stocks were the S&P 500's best-performing sector, helped by a 3.6 percent climb in Hewlett-Packard Co
(Editing by Jan Paschal)
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