US stocks finish higher for 2012

The floor of the New York Stock Exchange in New York City.</p>

The floor of the New York Stock Exchange in New York City.

US stocks ended 2012 higher than a year ago, boosted by their strongest day in more than a month, Reuters reported.

In the last trading day of 2012, the Dow Jones industrial average rose 166.03 points, or 1.28 percent, to finish at 13,104.14. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index increased 23.76 points, or 1.69 percent, to close at 1,426.19. And the Nasdaq Composite Index increased 59.20 points, or 2 percent, to 3,019.51.

The Dow ended the year 7.3 percent higher, the Nasdaq increased 15.9 percent and the S&P 500 gained 13.4 percent, Reuters reported.

Financials were the S&P's top performing industry sector in 2012, rising more than 26 percent, Reuters reported.

Stocks rallied today after Sen. Mitch McConnell said that Congressional leaders were "very, very close" to a deal that would prevent tax increases, and President Barack Obama gave a mid-afternoon speech that reassured investors that a deal was near, the Wall Street Journal reported.

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Joe Heider, regional managing principal at Rehmann Financial in Ohio, said markets have priced in some kind of last-minute resolution but if it turns out that a deal isn't reached by midnight, stock markets would likely decline by a few percentage points on Wednesday.

"Maybe it's wishful thinking, but I really think they'll come to a 5,000-foot level agreement," he said. "If a deal collapses, we are likely to experience a selloff on Wednesday."

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