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Stocks Hit 14-Month High; Dow Tops 10,500

Monday, 14 Dec 2009 | 5:47 PM ET

Stocks closed at a 14-month high Monday as news of an energy deal and a lifeline for Dubai helped buoy the market — and investors' appetite for risk.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 29.55, or 0.3 percent, to close at 10,501.05, led by JPMorgan and Merck. The S&P 500 advanced 0.7 percent, led by XTO Energy and Sun Microsystems. the Nasdaq jumped 1 percent.

The CBOE volatility index, widely considered the best gauge of fear in the market, dropped to 21.15.

Materials, industrials and health-care were the best performers, while telecoms, energy and consumer staples were the worst.

Financials wobbled as President Obama summoned bank chiefs to Washington but recovered slightly after the meeting was over.

President Obama told the bank chiefs they owe it to their country to help dig out of the financial crisis — by lending more money and supporting financial reforms.

U.S. Bancorp CEO Richard Davis, who attended the meeting, said, contrary to what lobbyists were saying, "We do support regulatory reform."

In an interview with CBS's "60 Minutes" on Sunday, Obama had condemned banker bonuses, saying: "I did not run for office to be helping out a bunch of fat cat bankers on Wall Street."

"He didn't call us any names," Davis quipped after the meeting, referring to that fat-cat comment.

Citigroup shares tumbled more than 6 percent as the bank is reportely close to a deal to repay over $10 billion of its loan from the government, which includes a plan to immediately issue $17 billion in new stock. Investors were encouraged by the move to get out from under the government's thumb but punished the stock amid concerns about dilution.

Bank of America ended flat. The bank is a step closer to hiring a CEO to succeed Ken Lewis but compensation remains a sticking point, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Morgan Stanley shares finished up 1.3 percent after the brokerage said on Sunday that it has hired former Merrill Lynch operating chief Gregory Fleming to run its investment-management unit.

Shares of Charles Schwabfell after the company projected a drop, consecutively, in fourth-quarter earnings, citing low interest rates and low trading volume.

ExxonMobil gave a boost to the energy sector with its plans to buy natural-gas developer XTO Energy in an all-stock deal valued at $31 billion, but Exxon stock was the biggest drag on the Dow.

XTO shares jumped 15 percent and the SPDR Energy ETF gained 1 percent.

Weekend news that Abu Dhabi would provide $10 billion of surprise aidto debt-burdened neighbor Dubai helped assuage fears about the global fallout from Dubai's woes.

The dollar fell against the euro and yenafter the Abu Dhabi news. Oil fell below $70 a barreland gold was trading above $1,120 an ounce.

Last week, the dollar seemed to break its inverse pattern with stocks — both moved higher. But Kevin Cook of Peak6 Investment said stocks have actually been in a holding pattern for the past five weeks and he thinks the dollar still has further to go.

"On the news we got last night about the Dubai debt situation, we saw dollar profit-taking ... but [other currencies] could not sustain the rally," Cook said. "[T]hat shows you that this long-dollar trade is still on."

Cook expects the euro will fall to $1.45 in the next couple of weeks.

Sun Microsystems shot up 11 percent after encouraging talks between Oracle and European regulators that could clear the path for Oracle's acquistion of Sun.

Google shares rose after the Internet titan announced plans to sell its own mobile phone direct to consumers as soon as next year, bypassing wireless operators in a rare strategic move, the Wall Street Journal cited sources as saying on Saturday.

Winterizing Your Portfolio - A CNBC Special Report
Winterizing Your Portfolio - A CNBC Special Report

Amazon.com shares slipped more than 2 percent after Barron's praises the company's operations but said its stock was too pricey.

Visa shares gained more than 4 percent after Robert W. Baird upgraded the company's stock to "outperform" from "neutral."

Britain's Cadbury said it has interest from other bidders after raising its growth targets and reporting upbeat trading as it dismissed a $16.5 billion bid from Kraft Foods .

And Accenture on Sunday said it plans to end its six-year sponsorship arrangement with golfer Tiger Woods.

Volume was light, with 1.07 billion shares changing hands on the New York Stock Exchange. Advancers outpaced decliners, roughly 3 to 1.

The Federal Reserve starts a two-day meeting on Tuesday and is likely to keep rates unchanged near zero. But the key factor will be whether the Fed will reiterate its dovish bias.

This Week:

MONDAY: Obama meets with bankers
TUESDAY: GE annual outlook meeting; Fed's two-day meeting begins; producer prices; Empire State manuf. survey; industrial production; housing-market index; Earnings from Best Buy, Adobe
WEDNESDAY: Weekly mortgage apps; consumer prices; housing starts; current account; weekly crude inventories; Fed announcement; Earnings from Hovnanian
THURSDAY: Bank of Japan monetary policy meeting; Bernanke confirmation vote; weekly jobless claims; leading indicators; Philly Fed survey; Earnings from FedEx, Rite Aid, Oracle, Palm and RIMM
FRIDAY: Bank of Japan meeting continues; U.S. budget deadline; quadruple witching

Send comments to cindy.perman@nbcuni.com.

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