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The close: Stocks recover from 'cliff' jitters Add to ...

Stocks rose on Thursday in a volatile session that saw investors waver over whether Washington was making any progress in talks to avoid the looming fiscal cliff.

The S&P 500 closed at 1415.95, up 6.02 points or 0.4 per cent. The blue-chip Dow Jones industrial average closed at 13,021.82, up 36.71 points or 0.3 per cent. In Canada, the S&P/TSX composite index closed at 12,202.85, up 62.52 points or 0.5 per cent.

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The S&P 500 had rallied at the start of trading, but then surrendered those gains after House Speaker John Boehner said that there had been “no substantive progress” made in budget talks in Washington.

Without an agreement before the end of the year, the U.S. faces automatic tax increases and spending cuts that threaten to push the U.S. economy into recession.

However, other voices were far more encouraging. Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer said progress was being made and White House spokesman Jay Carney said the Barack Obama administration remained optimistic.

In economic news, U.S. initial jobless claims fell to 393,000, down from 416,000 in the previous week. That was in line with economists’ expectations but still above the recent low of 370,000 claims.

The U.S. economy expanded by 2.7 per cent in the third quarter, at an annual rate, after being revised from an earlier reading of just 2 per cent. However, economists were largely expecting that.

Tiffany & Co. fell 6.2 per cent after cutting its sales and profit forecast and missing expectations with quarterly results.

Research In Motion Ltd. rose 4.4 per cent after an analyst at Goldman Sachs upgraded the stock to a “buy” recommendation and boosted the price target to $16 (U.S.) from $9.

Royal Bank of Canada rose 0.5 per cent after it kicked of the fourth-quarter earnings season for Canadian banks with a profit of $1.9-billion or $1.25 a share, up from $1.02 a share last year.

Among commodities, gold rose to $1,727.20 U.S.) an ounce, up $10.70. Crude oil rose to $88.07 a barrel, up $1.58.

Among Canadian commodity producers, Suncor Energy Inc. rose 0.4 per cent and Barrick Gold Corp. rose 0.2 per cent.

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