Stocks End Higher, S&P Closes Above 1350

Stocks kicked off the week on a high note Monday, after Greece's parliament finally gave the green light over the weekend to austerity measures aimed at securing an international bailout package.

Apple hit a major milestone, closing above $500 a share for the first time, amid speculation about the iPad 3 and the possibility that the firm may declare a dividend, or even split its shares.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 72.81 points, or 0.57 percent, to end at 12,874.04, led by BofA and JPMorgan .

The S&P 500 added 9.13 points, or 0.68 percent, to close at 1,351.77. The Nasdaq rallied 27.51 points, or 0.95 percent, to finish at 2,931.39, ending near a 11-year high.

The CBOE Volatility Index, widely considered the best gauge of fear in the market, fell to end near 19.

Most S&P sectors ended in positive territory, led by industrials and banks. Utilities dipped slightly.

“Overall, the market wants to digest good news,” said Mark Martiak, vice president of Premier Financial Advisors. “But this week is critical as to whether the rally can sustain itself. We’re going to have continued choppiness as we don’t know what to expect.”

Greece's parliament approved a deeply unpopular austerity billover the weekend, securing a second EU/IMF bailout and avoid national bankruptcy. In total, 199 of the 300 lawmakers voted for the bill, but 43 deputies from the socialists and conservatives rebelled by voting against. They were immediately expelled by their parties.

Meanwhile, violence grew on the streets of Athens, showing that despite the approval by parliament the measures will be difficult to implement.

Martiak added that the possibility of a Greek default is not completely off the table.

“There’s still a lot of intense scrutiny and public pressure—these austerity measures have to be renegotiated after the national elections. Greece will be a benchmark for Portugal and other countries facing difficult times,” he explained. “Greece is not out of the woods yet, but we’ll know by the end of the first half of the year,” he explained.

Apple also launched a new legal attack on Samsung phones, targeting the latest model using the fast-growing Android operating system from Google.

Google is expected to get approval from EU and U.S. competition regulators for its planned $12.5 billion acquisition of Motorola Mobility .

General Electric edged higher after the conglomerate said it plans to hire 5,000 veteransover the next five years and to invest $580 million to expand its aviation footprint domestically in 2012. GE is the a minority shareholder in NBCUniversal.

Pfizer gained after a new study showed potential uses for at least two of their cancer drugs.

On the tech front, Benchmark cut its rating on the semiconductor sector to "market weight" from "overweight." Chipmakers including Micron and Texas Instruments slipped following the downgrade.

Separately, FBR boosted its rating on Nvidia to "outperform" to "market perform" and raised its price target to $20 from $17.

And Bernstein raised its rating on AMD to "outperform" to "market perform" and upped its price target to $10 from $6.50.

The S&P retail index hit an all-time high today with Dollar Tree , Limited Brands and Priceline were among the top performing stocks on the index.

First Solar fell to lead the S&P 500 laggards after Brigantine cut its rating on the firm to "hold" from "buy."

News Corp was rocked by scandal as employees of its flagship UK newspaper The Sun were arrested over the weekend in a probe involving allegations of bribery.

There are no notable earnings today, but 63 percent of the 352 S&P 500 companies that have reported earnings so far have beat analyst expectations, according to Thomson Reuters. This week, 51 additional companies are scheduled to report results.

President Obama unveiled a $3.8 trillion 2013fiscal budget proposalthat aims to achieve $4 trillion in deficit reduction over the next decade.

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Coming Up This Week:

TUESDAY: NFIB small business optimism index, retail sales, import and export prices, Fed's Plosser speaks, business inventories, 13-F filings due; Earnings from Metlife
WEDNESDAY: MBA mortgage applications, Empire state mfg survey, treasury international capital, industrial production, Fed's Fisher speaks, housing market index, oil inventories, FOMC minutes, credit card default rates reported; Earnings from Comcast, Abercrombie & Fitch, Deere, CBS, Netapp, Nvidia
THURSDAY: Housing starts, jobless claims, PPI, Bernanke speaks at FDIC hearing, Philadelphia Fed survey; earnings from GM, Applied Materials, Baidu, Nordstrom
FRIDAY: CPI, leading indicators; Earnings from Campbell Soup, Heinz

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