* Technology shares lift markets, Apple up 2 pct
* German confidence data helps lift U.S. stocks
* Fed to begin two-day policy meeting
* Indexes up: S&P 0.8 pct, Dow 0.7 pct, Nasdaq 1.1 pct
By Leah Schnurr
NEW YORK, Dec 11 (Reuters) - Wall Street opened higher on
Tuesday, lifted by gains in shares of technology companies as
investors picked up some recent laggards, including Apple.
Unexpected improvement in data out of Europe set the
positive tone early as investors cast around for catalysts. The
U.S. stock market has entered a traditionally quiet period
heading into the end of the year, with thinner trading volumes.
The Nasdaq fared better than other major indexes, lifted by
a 2 percent gain in Apple Inc. The company's shares
have been beaten down recently, partly due to investors' booking
profit before a possible rise in capital gains taxes next year.
Apple was recently up 2.5 percent at $543.18.
Elsewhere in the tech sector, Intel Corp was up 2.3
percent at $20.54, while Hewlett-Packard rose 1.1
percent to $14.31.
Investors are picking up weaker stocks in hopes of a market
turn around next year, said Michael Sheldon, chief market
strategist at RDM Financial in Westport, Connecticut.
"I doubt there's going to be a lot of conviction based on
volume when everything is said and done at the end of the day,"
The Dow Jones industrial average gained 90.31 points,
or 0.69 percent, to 13,260.19. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index
rose 11.14 points, or 0.79 percent, to 1,429.69. The
Nasdaq Composite Index climbed 33.73 points, or 1.13
percent, to 3,020.69.
Though the pace of talks in Washington to avert impending
U.S. tax hikes and spending cuts quickened, senior politicians
on both sides cautioned that an agreement on all the outstanding
issues remained uncertain.
The lack of progress in negotiations about the "fiscal
cliff" has kept investors from making aggressive bets in recent
weeks, though most expect a deal will eventually be reached.
In Germany, analyst and investor sentiment rose sharply in
December, entering positive territory for the first time since
May, a leading survey showed. The data helped drive European
The U.S. Treasury is selling its remaining stake in insurer
American International Group Inc, bringing an end to
government ownership of the company about four years after a
$182 billion bailout. AIG's shares were up 3.6 percent at
The Fed will begin its policy-setting meeting on Tuesday.
The central bank is expected to announce a new round of Treasury
bond purchases when the meeting ends on Wednesday to replace its
"Operation Twist" stimulus which expires at the end of the year.