US STOCKS-Wall St rises after Gaza truce in thin holiday trade

Leah Schnurr
Reuters Middle East

* Ceasefire declared in Gaza conflict

* Lenders fail to reach deal for Greece

* Investors remain wary of "fiscal cliff" impact

* St Jude shares slide 13 percent

* Dow up 0.4 pct, S&P 500 up 0.2 pct, Nasdaq up 0.3 pct

NEW YORK, Nov 21 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks advanced on

Wednesday after a ceasefire was declared to end the flare-up in

violence between Israel and the Palestinians, though the lack of

a deal to release aid to Greece kept a lid on gains.

Investors also remained anxious about the tax increases and

spending cuts that are poised to come into effect in the new

year - known as the "fiscal cliff" - though policymakers are not

expected to get back to negotiations until after Thursday's

Thanksgiving holiday.

Trading volume was light ahead of Thursday's market holiday.

The stock market also will close early at 1 p.m. (1800 GMT) on


Greece's international lenders failed again to reach a deal

to release emergency aid to the debt-saddled country. Lenders

will try again next Monday, but Germany signaled that

significant divisions remain.

A truce between Israel and Hamas gave stocks some support

around midday after Egypt announced a ceasefire will come into

effect later in the day.

Fears that the fiscal cliff discussions in Washington could

be drawn out or yield no resolution have been at the forefront

of investors' minds in recent weeks. Combined with concerns over

the euro zone's continued debt problems, the worries had taken

more than 5 percent off the S&P 500 since Election Day in early


Positive comments from U.S. politicians that they will work

to find common ground have helped the S&P 500 recoup some of

that loss in recent sessions.

"I think the focus is heavy on what are we doing about

fiscal cliff," said Kurt Brunner, portfolio manager at

Swarthmore Group in Philadelphia.

"Are these guys talking? Are there going to be substantive

decisions made?"

St Jude Medical shares tumbled 13.3 percent to

$30.96 after an inspection report from health regulators raised

new safety concerns about one of the company's leads that are

used with implantable defibrillators, analysts said.

A small gain in International Business Machines

helped the Dow outperform the other indexes. IBM was up 0.7

percent at $190.47.

The Dow Jones industrial average added 49.35 points,

or 0.39 percent, to 12,837.86. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index

edged up 2.62 points, or 0.19 percent, to 1,390.43. The

Nasdaq Composite Index gained 8.28 points, or 0.28

percent, to 2,924.96. Inc jumped 7.6 percent to $157.03

after the business software provider beat Wall Street's

expectations for the third quarter and maintained its outlook

for the rest of the year.

But Deere & Co dragged on the S&P 500 after the

world's largest farm equipment maker reported a

weaker-than-expected quarterly profit. Its stock lost 4 percent

to $82.52.

The market did not derive much direction from the day's

economic data, with initial jobless claims falling last week, as


Other data showed manufacturing picked up at its quickest

pace in five months in November, while consumer sentiment

improved only slightly.

The focus will likely turn to retailers on Friday as

analysts try to assess how strong the holiday shopping season

will be this year, Brunner said. Holiday shopping traditionally

kicks off the day after Thanksgiving, known as Black Friday, as

stores offer deals and discounts to lure consumers.

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