U.S. stocks fluctuate as House passes budget deal

Energy Stocks

Energy producers slid 0.4%, the most among 10 main groups in the S&P 500. West Texas Intermediate fell as much as 1.3%. Stockpiles of gasoline and distillate fuels, including diesel and heating oil, jumped the most last week since Jan. 4, the Energy Information Administration reported on Dec. 11.

Anadarko tumbled 7.6% to $77.33. The company and its Kerr-McGee unit acted improperly in the 2005 spinoff of Tronox and may have to pay as much as $14 billion related to environmental cleanup and health claims, a judge ruled.

The Chicago Board Options Exchange Volatility Index, the gauge of S&P 500 options known as the VIX, slipped 0.8% to 15.41 after three days of gains.

The S&P 500 yesterday fell to its lowest level since Nov. 12 as a better-than-forecast retail-sales report fueled speculation that the Federal Reserve will decide to taper asset purchases as early as next week. Central-bank officials have watched Washington’s budget negotiations and scrutinized economic data to determine whether the recovery is sufficiently robust to slow their bond-buying program.

Fed Policy

Some 34% of economists predict that policy makers will decide to reduce the $85 billion of monthly asset purchases at the Dec. 17-18 meeting, according to a Bloomberg poll on Dec. 6. That compared with the 17% that forecast tapering at next week’s meeting in a Nov. 8 poll.

The S&P 500 may climb 17% to 2,075 by the end of next year as profit growth accelerates and U.S. monetary remains supportive, Thomas Lee, JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s chief U.S. equity strategist, wrote in a research report today. Large technology companies provide the most attractive opportunity for outperformance, he said.

Adobe jumped 12% to $60.52. The company said yesterday that it signed up online customers at a faster-than- projected clip, adding to evidence the largest maker of graphic- design software is reducing its dependence on the slumping personal-computer market.

Texas Industries surged 13% to $65.99. The owners of the Dallas-based cement company are working with Citigroup Inc. to find a buyer, three people familiar with the matter said late yesterday. The business may attract Switzerland’s Holcim Ltd. and U.S. competitor Vulcan Materials Co., one of the people said.

Vulcan Materials, a maker of concrete and cement, climbed 3.3% to $56.22.

Electronic Arts Inc. increased 6.1% to $22.25. U.S. sales of video-game hardware jumped 58% in November from the prior year, NPD Group Ltd. said yesterday. Piper Jaffray Cos. analyst Michael Olson said titles such as Battlefield and Call of Duty have sold “reasonably well.”

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