Overnight Markets: U.S. stocks advance on German confidence

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U.S. stocks advanced on Tuesday, led by technology companies, as German investor confidence surged and traders awaited progress on federal budget negotiations in the U.S.

The Dow Jones industrial average was up 79 points, or 0.6%, at 13,248. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index was up nine points, or 0.65%, at 1,428. The Nasdaq Composite Index was up 35 points, or 1.18%, at 3,022.

Shares rose after German investor confidence jumped in December on speculation Europe’s largest economy will gather momentum next year.

Shares pared some gains by late afternoon after U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said it will be difficult to reach agreement resolving the cliff tax hikes and spending cuts before Christmas. Republican House Speaker John Boehner called on President Barack Obama to propose a counter-offer on Tuesday.

Apple rose 2.2%, lifting Nasdaq, as Morgan Stanley reiterated its overweight rating for the world’s most valuable company. Other major tech shares also gained. Texas Instruments added 4% after increasing its profit target late Monday. Microsoft rose 1.4%.

Retailers also gained after a positive report from Goldman Sachs Equity Research. Tumi Holding was up 4.7% and Michael Kors added 2.4%.

But discount retailers Dollar General and Family Dollar declined. Dollar General fell 7.8%, while Family Dollar shares declined 8.4%.

In deal news, SPX Corp shares fell 9.1% amid news that the company is in exclusive talks to acquire rival Gardner Denver, in a merger that could create an industrial machinery conglomerate with a market value over $7 billion.

Delta Air Lines Inc. gained 5.1% after agreeing to buy a 49% stake in Virgin Atlantic Airways Ltd. from Singapore Airlines Ltd.

Elsewhere, American International Group Inc. added 5.7% as the government sells its remaining stake.

In Asia, shares gained on Wednesday in morning trade amid speculation the U.S. Fed will step up monetary easing.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index advanced 0.5% to 127 as of 10:46 a.m. Tokyo time. Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average gained 0.5% as the nation’s machinery orders increased for the first time in three months. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index gained 0.4%. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index advanced 0.5%, while China’s Shanghai Composite Index lost 0.1%. South Korea’s Kospi Index added 0.3%.