Dec. 20 - Summary of business headlines: Stocks rally as hope trumps fear on fiscal cliff talks; NYSE to be sold to ICE for billions; Economic growth faster than thought; RIM, Nike beat forecasts, but Carnival warns. Conway G. Gittens reports.
Wall Street is marking time... but stocks rally for the third time in four sessions as fiscal cliff talks continue. The chatter at the New York Stock Exchange was the New York Stock Exchange itself. The iconic centuries-old NYSE is being bought by newcomer IntercontinentalExchange for $8.2 billion. Gaston Ceron of Morningstar: SOUNDBITE: GASTON CERON , EQUITY ANALYST, MORNINGSTAR (ENGLISH) SAYING: "The NYSE, although it is -- certainly an iconic brand and certainly a very well known company with a good franchise, I think one of the problems I think that it's definitely- run into some rough waters over the past year or so. And ICE on the other hand has done, has been much more resilient than other exchanges as far as trading activity and other metrics. And in that sense I think ICE clearly has had a strong hand to play here in the M&A game." The deal is likely to shake-up the trading environment, but analysts are not clear if it will mean better pricing or improved market confidence. Here's a surprise of the good kind. The U.S. economy grew at a faster pace last quarter than first thought; the boost coming from the first growth in government spending in three years. Consumer spending was up and so were exports. Growth, however, is expected to fizzle this quarter. Other encouraging signs: factory activity in the mid-Atlantic region expanded this month and sales of previously owned homes touched a three-year high. But jobless claims rose last week in a sign job growth is sputtering. Oil traders think demand is heading higher, sending NYMEX crude to its first close above $90 in two months. On the earnings front: Research in Motion posts a smaller-than-expected loss with revenues topping forecasts, but subscriber growth - down from a year ago. Athletic gear giant Nike beating forecasts on higher orders. But bookings at Carnival are down and are expected to stay down next year with travelers slow to return to the high seas. Finishing up in Europe - calm waters there, with stocks rangebound.