U.S. stocks rose at the open on Tuesday (December 18), extending a rally that lifted the S&P 500 to its highest in nearly two months, as optimism grew that a deal would be made to avert the "fiscal cliff".
The Dow Jones industrial average gained 12.11 points, or 0.09 percent, to 13,247.50. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index gained 2.13 points, or 0.15 percent, to 1,432.49. The Nasdaq Composite Index gained 9.93 points, or 0.33 percent, to 3,020.53.
Investors have been reluctant to make big bets in the face of uncertainty over the cliff, a combination of steep tax hikes and spending cuts that could hurt the U.S. economy if they take effect next year.
But hopes for a deal grew Monday night as U.S. President Barack Obama made a counter-offer to Republicans that included a major change in position on tax hikes for the wealthy, according to a source familiar with the talks.