NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks edged higher Monday on Wall Street after a strong sales report from McDonald's offset concerns about the surprise resignation of Italy's prime minister. Investors also waited for developments in crucial U.S. budget talks.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 14.75 points to 13,169.88. The index traded within a narrow range of just 56 points throughout the day. The Standard and Poor's 500 finished 0.48 point higher at 1,418.55. The Nasdaq composite ended up 8.92 points at 2,986.96.
McDonald's rose 93 cents to $89.41. A key sales figure rose in November as U.S. customers bought more breakfast offerings and limited-time Cheddar Bacon Onion sandwiches.
Robert Pavlik, chief market strategist at Palm Beach, Fla.-based Banyan Partners, said the company's strength was encouraging. McDonald's, one of the 30 stocks in the Dow, was trading as high as $100 at the beginning of 2012.
The pickup in McDonald's sales, he said, gave investors something positive to focus on as Italy's sudden political turmoil sent a jolt through European markets.
Hewlett-Packard rose 36 cents to $14.16 and also helped push the Dow higher. The company's stock has been battered the past two months following a weak earnings forecast and a public spat with the founder of Autonomy, a company it acquired for $10 billion last year.
Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti, who has been credited with restoring confidence in the nation's economy, announced that he would step down after former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's party dropped its support for his government.
Italian government bond yields, a critical measure of how much the country has to pay to borrow, jumped. Concern that the European debt crisis was enveloping Italy, one of the euro region's largest economies, helped stymie markets around the world earlier in the year.
Investors were also following developments in budget talks in Washington. Tax increases and federal spending cuts start Jan. 1 unless a deal is reached to reduce the U.S. budget deficit. Economists say the measures, if implemented, could eventually push the economy back into recession.
Continue reading this story on the...