Stocks rally to close higher
NEW YORK, Dec. 20 (UPI) -- U.S. stocks rallied Thursday to close higher on the New York Stock Exchange as the U.S. House prepared to vote on a Republican plan to extend most tax rates.
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said he would push for a vote Thursday on a plan that preserves current income tax rates on all income up to $1 million. Tax cuts enacted in 2001 and 2003 are scheduled to expire at the end of 2012.
First time jobless claims for the week ended Saturday rose 17,000 to 361,000.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 59.75 or 0.5 percent to 13,311.72.
The Nasdaq was up 6.02 points or 0.2 percent to 3,050.39.
The Standard & Poor's 500 rose 7.88 points or 0.6 percent to 1,443.69.
There were 2,068 advancers and 963 decliners on the New York Stock Exchange on a composite volume of more than 3.65 billion.
The 10-year treasury note was up 1/32 to yield 1.802 percent.
Against the yen, the dollar was was at 84.34 from Wednesday's 84.39. The euro was unchanged from Wednesday at $1.3244.
In Tokyo, the Nikkei lost 121 points, or 1.19 percent, closing at 10.039. The London FTSE fell 0.05 percent to 5,958.34 while the German DAX rose 0.03 percent to 7,670.71.
ICE makes $8.2B play for NYSE
ATLANTA, Dec. 20 (UPI) -- The IntercontinentalExchange said it has reached an $8.2 billion agreement to buy New York Stock Exchange, a market icon.
The deal would enable ICE, a 12-year old firm with its headquarters in Atlanta, Ga., to expand its derivatives business and its image, as the New York Stock Exchange is a symbol of New York and even U.S. financial prowess, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported Thursday.
The merger is subject to regulatory approval. For ICE, it would be the second attempt to get a purchase offer for the stock exchange past regulators.
ICE made a joint $11 billion bid for NYSE Euronext in April 2011 with NASDAQ. But U.S. regulators indicated they would not approve and the offer was canceled.
NYSE Euronext also struck a tentative deal with Deutsche Boerse that was valued at $10 billion, but that deal also fell through, the newspaper said.
Crude oil closes above $90
NEW YORK, Dec. 20 (UPI) -- Crude oil prices ended the day above $90 on fiscal cliff talks and data showing U.S. economic growth
West Texas Intermediate crude oil for February was up 15 cents to $90.13 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Home heating oil for January rose to $3.0599 a gallon.
Reformulated blendstock gasoline was up 1.12 cents to $2.7543 a gallon.
Natural gas prices were steady at $3.46 per million British thermal units.
At the pump, AAA reported a national average price for regular unleaded gasoline hit $3.219 per gallon, down from Wednesday's $3.226.
Export woes hurt corn, soybean prices
CHICAGO, Dec. 20 (UPI) -- Grain futures closed lower in Chicago Thursday under export pressure from corn and soybeans.
On the Chicago Board of Trade, corn was off 6 1/2 to off 9 3/4 cents, soybeans were off 22 3/4 to off 28 1/4 cents, wheat was off 15 1/4 to off 15 1/2, oats were off 14 1/2 to off 15 1/2.
Soybeans were lower on news China had canceled major soybean purchases this week. Corn followed soybeans on spillover, as well as the corn market's own export concerns.
Wheat was lower on spillover pressure from soybeans and needed precipitation in the U.S. Central Plains.
Corn: Mar 6.97 off 6 1/2, May 6.99 3/4, Jly 6.97 1/4 off 8 1/2, Sep 6.22 2/4 off 9 1/4.
Soybeans: Jan 14.08 3/4 off 28 1/4, Mar 14.04 3/4 off 26 1/4, May 13.94 3/4 off 24 3/4.
Wheat: Mar 7.90 1/2 off 15 1/4, May 8.02 off 15 1/4, Jly 8.07 3/4 off 15 1/4, Sep 8.18 1/2 off 15 1/2.
Oats: Mar 3.59 3/4, May 3.67 1/4 off 15 1/4, Jly 3.69 1/4 off 14 1/2, Sep 3.58 3/4 off 14 1/2.