Stock Futures Soar on 'Fiscal Cliff' Deal

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Stock futures were soaring Wednesday as risk appetite got a big boost on the first trading day of the year after both the Senate and the House of Representatives passed a bill to avert the "fiscal cliff."

Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average were up 197 points, or 191.86 points above fair value, at 13,224. Futures for the S&P 500 were up 25.50 points, or 25.06 points above fair value, at 1445. Futures for the Nasdaq were up 52.75 points, or 52.52 points above fair value, at 2708.

Tax hikes are still set to take place but to a more diluted degree and unemployment benefits will be extended until the end of the year.

Planned spending cuts scheduled to kick in this month are to be postponed for two months.

"It sets up another showdown within weeks which has the potential to be even more disruptive given the U.S. debt ceiling must be raised at the same time if technical default is to be avoided," commented Gareth Berry, a currency strategist at UBS. "But for now the conditions seem right for a moderate celebratory rally in risk assets, however brief, and we would be reluctant to fight this just yet."

Analysts at Cantor Fitzgerald noted that the markets seemed to be shrugging off the fact that the U.S. did in fact hit its debt ceiling late on Dec. 31, with no rating agencies having spoken out on U.S. debt following the event.

Markets were closed Tuesday for the New Year's Day holiday.

At 10 a.m. EST, the Institute for Supply Management is expected by economists to say that the ISM Manufacturing Index rose to 50.3 in December from contraction territory at 49.5 in November.

At the same time, the Census Bureau is forecast to report that construction spending increased 0.6% in November after jumping 1.4% in October.

Gold for February delivery was surging by $11 at $1,686.80 an ounce at the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange, while February crude oil contracts were up $1.49 at $93.31 a barrel.

The benchmark 10-year Treasury was sliding by 25/32, pushing the yield up to 1.847%. The dollar was down 0.33%, according to the U.S. dollar index.

Overseas markets were sharply higher on the fiscal cliff deal. The FTSE 100 in London was gaining 2.26%, while the DAX in Germany was tacking on 2.11%. Hong Kong's Hang Seng closed ahead by 2.89%.

The Japanese market was closed and scheduled to reopen on Friday.

In corporate news, Avis ( CAR) announced that it is acquiring Zipcar ( ZIP) for about $500 million, or $12.25 a share in cash, a 49% premium over Zipcar's closing price on Dec. 31.

Zipcar shares were surging by more than 47.5%.

Live Nation Entertainment's ( LYV) Irving Azoff plans to resign as chairman of the concert promoter and will sell 1.7 million Live Nation shares to Liberty Media ( LMCA) .

High seas and strong winds prevented crews from boarding a Royal Dutch Shell ( RDS.A) drilling ship to check for any damage after the large vessel went aground off an uninhabited island in the Gulf of Alaska, The Associated Press reported.

Shares were flat.

Intel's ( INTC) effort to develop an Internet-based TV service and associated hardware is taking longer than expected, people familiar with the company's plans told The Wall Street Journal, in part due to delays in reaching content agreements with media companies.

Hewlett-Packard ( HPQ) is evaluating the sale of businesses that don't meet goals more than a year after CEO Meg Whitman said she didn't plan to spin off the PC division, according to a Bloomberg report.

Shares were advancing by nearly 3%.

Facebook ( FB) shares were gaining nearly 3%, lifted by positive analyst sentiment.

Apple ( AAPL) shares were popping more than 3% as investors anticipate a big rally this year for tech giant.

-- Written by Andrea Tse in New York.

>To contact the writer of this article, click here: Andrea Tse.

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