* Movement in fiscal cliff negotiations begins
* New York state manufacturing activity falls further in Dec
* Indexes up: S&P 0.7 pct, Dow 0.5 pct, Nasdaq 0.5 pct
By Leah Schnurr
NEW YORK, Dec 17 (Reuters) - Wall Street opened higher on
Monday as investors found encouragement in signs of movement
over the weekend in "fiscal cliff" negotiations.
Republican House Speaker John Boehner edged slightly closer
to President Barack Obama's key demands as they try to avert the
tax hikes and spending cuts that are set to take effect in the
Sources familiar with the talks confirmed that Boehner
proposed extending low tax rates for everyone who has earned
less than $1 million, and rates would rise for wages above that.
But Boehner's new positions were still far from those held by
"The universal feeling is still that this will probably be
solved" but it might take until the last minute, said Ryan
Detrick, senior technical strategist at Schaeffer's Investment
Research in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Uncertainty over when and if a federal budget deal will be
done has kept investors cautious in what is already a normally
quiet trading period heading into year-end.
Investors are worried the economy could slide back into
recession if the full brunt of the tax and spending changes is
allowed, though most expect a deal will eventually be reached.
The market shrugged off Monday's less cheery economic data
that showed manufacturing activity in the New York region
declined for a fifth month in a row in December.
The Dow Jones industrial average gained 67.89 points,
or 0.52 percent, to 13,202.90. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index
rose 9.29 points, or 0.66 percent, to 1,422.87. The
Nasdaq Composite Index added 15.74 points, or 0.53
percent, to 2,987.07.
If the S&P 500 sustains its gains through the session, the
index would snap a two-day losing streak. Despite the
uncertainty of fiscal cliff talks, the S&P has performed well in
the last month, grinding higher in mostly light volume.
Markets are likely to continue that sort of momentum through
the end of the year, which is typically a bullish time for
stocks, said Detrick.
Clearwire Corp agreed to sell the rest of the
company to Sprint Nextel Corp for a slightly sweeter $2.2
billion offer, days after minority shareholders criticized the
previous bid as too low. Clearwire tumbled 12.2 percent to
$2.96, while Sprint was up 0.9 percent at $5.60.
Apple Inc slipped 0.7 percent to $506.30 after two
firms cut their price targets on the stock.
The tech giant said it sold more than 2 million of its new
iPhone 5 smartphones in China during the three days after its
launch there on Friday, but the figures did not ease worries
about stiffer competition. Apple shares have tumbled nearly 30
percent in about three months.