* S&P 500 on track for double-digits gains for 2012
* Obama sees "cliff" deal near, but not done yet
* Apple shares advance, lifting technology sector
* Dow up 1.1 pct, S&P 500 up 1.4 pct, Nasdaq up 2 pct
By Chuck Mikolajczak
NEW YORK, Dec 31 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks advanced on Monday
in a choppy session after comments from President Barack Obama
suggesting a deal on the "fiscal cliff" was drawing closer.
The S&P 500 jumped above 1 percent after Obama said it
appeared a deal was within sight, but quickly cut some gains
when the president noted an agreement was not complete yet.
With just an hour left in the final session of
2012, though, the S&P 500 resumed its climb and shot above 1
A source familiar with the matter said an emerging deal, if
adopted by Congress and President Barack Obama, would raise $600
billion in revenue over the next 10 years by increasing tax
rates for individuals making more than $400,000 and households
earning above $450,000 annually.
A plan is needed in order to avert a combination of tax
hikes and spending cuts that many believe could push the U.S.
economy into recession.
"There is positive momentum in the market, and we are
building up to a deal - markets are definitely starting to price
in a deal sometime before tomorrow," said Peter Kenny, managing
director at Knight Capital in Jersey City, New Jersey.
"This sounds counterintuitive, but if that doesn't happen,
even if we don't get a bridge deal done, that is just going to
increase the pressure on a deal getting done."
The gains put the S&P 500 on track to snap a five-day losing
skid, its longest losing streak since September.
The Dow Jones industrial average gained 136.08
points, or 1.05 percent, to 13,074.19. The Standard & Poor's 500
Index rose 19.82 points, or 1.41 percent, to 1,422.25.
The Nasdaq Composite Index climbed 59.89 points, or 2.02
percent, to 3,020.20.
The S&P 500 is now up 13.1 percent for the year, compared
with a flat performance in 2011. The Dow is up 7 percent and the
Nasdaq is up 15.9 percent.
Gains in Apple Inc, the most valuable U.S. company,
helped lift the Nasdaq. The stock rose 4.4 percent to $531.85,
lifting the S&P information technology sector index up
1.9 percent. For the year so far, Apple is up 31.3 percent.
The Dow was bolstered by Caterpillar Inc and Home
Depot, both up more than 1 percent. In late afternoon
trading, Caterpillar shot up nearly 3 percent to $86.35.
While a deal on the cliff is not yet official, investors may
be ready to take on more risk next year in hopes of a greater
Bank stocks rose after a New York Times report that U.S.
regulators are nearing a $10 billion settlement with several
banks that would end the government's efforts to hold lenders
responsible for faulty foreclosure practices.
Bank of America Corp was up 2.1 percent at $11.59.
Financial stocks were among the strongest of the year, with
the S&P financial index surging 25.2 percent for 2012 so
far. Bank of America is the top-performing Dow component, with
its stock price more than doubling over the past 12 months.