Apple’s Strong Finish and Stryker’s Bribery Accusation: Market Recap

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The U.S. equity markets closed up on the last day of trading in 2012, leaving the year on a positive note despite lingering uncertainty surrounding the fiscal cliff and America’s growing debt. As the markets close on December 31, policymakers have just eight hours to reach an agreement before tax increases and severe fiscal austerity measures begin to take effect, and threaten to slam the breaks on on a struggling economic recovery.

At the close: DJIA: +1.28%, S&P 500: +1.69%, Nasdaq: +2.00%.

For the year: DJIA: +7.26%, S&P 500: +13.41%, Nasdaq: +15.91%.

On the commodities front, Oil (NYSE:USO) climbed 1.09 percent to $91.79 per barrel. Precious metals were also up for the day, with Gold (NYSE:GLD) climbing 1.09 percent to $1,673.40 per ounce, and Silver (NYSE:SLV) climbing 1.22 percent to $30.34 per ounce about 7 minutes after the bell.

For the year, U.S. Crude fell about 7 percent, Brent Crude climbed about 3.6 percent, and natural gas climbed about 12.1 percent. Gold climbed about 7 percent, its twelfth consecutive year of gains. Silver was up about 8.3 percent for the year.

Here’s your Cheat Sheet to today’s top stock stories:

Stryker (NYSE:SYK), one of the world’s largest medical, reconstructive, and surgical technology companies, has recently been arguing against the Obama administration’s new healthcare taxes, but the company may have bigger problems to worry about. The Associated Press reported on Monday that Polish prosecutors are investigating whether the medical equipment company offered bribes to hospital officials in order to win contracts… (Read more.)

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Shares of Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) ended the day up 4.57 percent, for a year-to-date gain of 23.92 percent. The revolutionary technology company was one of the most-watched businesses in 2012 by both investors and consumers. The stock climbed more 70 percent between January and the middle of September, hitting a 52-week high over $700 per share, before tumbling nearly 28 percent to end the year at $532.86 per share.

The proposed merger between AMR’s (AAMRQ.PK) American Airlines and US Airways (NYSE:LCC), has been held up for much of December, as AMR has struggled to develop an interim labor agreement with the board of AA’s pilots union. But after three weeks of confidential negotiations, the union has agreed to a proposal that will pave the way for the two carriers to proceed with their combination… (Read more.)

President Barack Obama delivered a short statement on Monday afternoon, updating the public on the progress of the last-minute fiscal cliff negotiations in Washington. Hoping to rally public sentiment and turn around the pessimism that built up over an unproductive Christmas week, said early in his statement: “It appears that agreement to prevent this new years tax hike is in sight, but it’s not done.” (Read more.)

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