* House Speaker Boehner's comments dent confidence
* Research in Motion jumps on Goldman upgrade
* Dow up 0.3 pct, S&P 500 up 0.4 pct, Nasdaq up 0.7 pct
By Angela Moon
NEW YORK, Nov 29 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks finished higher on
Thursday as investors bought on sporadic dips in a market roiled
by conflicting comments from Washington about negotiations on an
agreement to avoid the "fiscal cliff."
Tech shares, including Research In Motion
and Advanced Micro Devices, helped the Nasdaq outperform
the broader market. Telecommunications and health-care stocks
were the day's best-performing sectors.
Reflecting the uncertainty surrounding U.S. budget talks,
trading was choppy. Wall Street reversed early gains and fell
shortly after House Speaker John Boehner, the top Republican in
Congress, dashed hopes that lawmakers were getting closer to a
budget deal that would avert automatic tax increases and
spending cuts set for early 2013 - the fiscal cliff - that could
push the U.S. economy into a recession next year. But the market
rebounded by afternoon and the three major U.S. stock indexes
rebounded to near their session highs.
"There is an emotional part in buying on the small dips
here. Investors are more worried about missing the rally than
losing money as they believe that the 'fiscal cliff' will be
solved eventually," said James Dailey, portfolio manager at TEAM
Asset Strategy Fund in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
"Until the fiscal cliff is solved, the madness of the crowd
will not subside."
Discussions on Capitol Hill are aimed at avoiding big
automatic spending cuts and tax hikes, known as the fiscal
cliff, that will start taking effect beginning in January.
Boehner's comment about a lack of progress in talks with the
White House was one of a series of contrary pronouncements by
lawmakers and the Obama administration over whether Washington
will finally cut a deal.
There have been some signs that leaders are moving closer to
a fiscal agreement. The S&P 500 has gained about 5 percent
recently after a sell-off that took it down almost 8 percent
following the U.S. election on Nov. 6. But investors remain wary
that politicians' ad hoc statements can spark quick reversals in
U.S.-listed shares of BlackBerry maker Research In Motion
rose 4 percent to $11.54 after Goldman Sachs upgraded the stock
to "buy" from "neutral" on optimism ahead of the launch of the
BlackBerry 10 smartphone.
Advanced Micro Devices Inc shares gained 4.1 percent
to $2.04 on plans to sell and lease back its campus in Austin,
Texas. The sale and lease-back will raise cash and fund its
chipmaking business as Advanced Micro Devices diversifies beyond
the struggling PC industry into new markets.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 36.71 points,
or 0.28 percent, to 13,021.82 at the close. The Standard &
Poor's 500 Index gained 6.02 points, or 0.43 percent, to
1,415.95. The Nasdaq Composite Index advanced 20.25
points, or 0.68 percent, to close at 3,012.03.
So far this week, the Dow is up 0.1 percent, the S&P 500 is
up 0.5 percent and the Nasdaq is up 1.5 percent.
But shares of top retailers retreated in the wake of data
showing a weak start to November sales after Superstorm Sandy.
Kohl's Corp fell 12 percent to $45.02.
Tiffany shares dropped 6.2 percent to $59.80 after
the upscale jeweler reported quarterly results and cut its
full-year sales and profit forecasts.
Supervalu shares sank 18.6 percent to $2.28 after a
report that Cerberus Capital Management was having difficulty
obtaining financing to buy out the troubled grocery chain.
Data showed the U.S. economy grew faster than initially
thought in the third quarter as businesses restocked, but
consumer and business spending were revised lower in a sobering
reminder of the economic recovery's underlying weakness.
Contracts to buy previously owned U.S. homes rose more than
expected in October, a sign the housing market recovery advanced
into the fourth quarter despite a mammoth storm and concerns
over looming tax hikes. Homebuilders' shares rose. The PHLX
housing index rose 0.8 percent.
About 6.15 billion shares changed hands on the New York
Stock Exchange, the Nasdaq and NYSE MKT, below the daily average
so far this year of about 6.48 billion shares.
On both the NYSE and the Nasdaq, roughly three stocks rose
for every one that fell.