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Wall Street advances as budget talks progress

Stocks climbed on Monday, giving the S&P 500 its best day since November 23, on rising hopes that negotiations over the "fiscal cliff" were making progress and that a deal could be reached in days. 

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 100.38 points, or 0.76 percent, to 13,235.39. The S&P 500 Index gained 16.81 points, or 1.19 percent, to 1,430.39. The Nasdaq Composite added 39.27 points, or 1.32 percent, to 3,010.60. 

After weeks of stalemate, President Barack Obama and Republican House Speaker John Boehner met at the White House on Monday, raising hopes that Washington will be able to head off steep tax hikes and spending cuts that threaten the economy. 

All of the S&P 500's 10 sectors were higher, led by financials. The S&P Financial Index gained 1.5 percent, and shares of Bank of America rose 2.6 percent to $10.86 while Citigroup gained 3.1 percent to $38.79. 

Boehner has edged closer to Obama's position by proposing to extend lower tax rates for everyone who earns less than $1 million. Still, his position remains far from that of President Obama. 

"Trumping everything right now are the fiscal cliff talks. It seems like progress is being made. I think it's getting to the nitty gritty, and I think that's what the market is reacting to," said Alan Lancz, president of Alan B. Lancz & Associates Inc. in Toledo, Ohio. 

"The bet right now is that something will come by the end of this week." 

Investors worry the U.S. economy could slide into recession if the tax and spending changes are implemented. 

Clearwire agreed to sell the rest of the company to Sprint Nextel for a slightly sweetened $2.2 billion offer just days after minority shareholders criticized the previous bid as too low. Clearwire tumbled 12.8 percent to $2.94, while Sprint was down 0.7 percent to $5.51. 

Apple shares edged up after recent losses, rising 0.6 percent to $512.88. Two firms cut their price targets on the stock Monday. 

The tech giant said it sold more than 2 million of its new iPhone 5 smartphones in China during the three days after its launch there on Friday, but the figures did not ease worries about stiffer competition. Apple shares have tumbled more than 25 percent in about three months. 

Compuware rose 13 percent to $10.78 after hedge fund Elliott Management offered to buy the business software maker for $2.3 billion and S&P Capital IQ raised the target price and moved it to "hold" from "strong sell.