Apple Pops, Wal-Mart is Scrutinized, and Gun Stocks Crumble: Market Recap

Following more tangible good news out of Washington, the markets closed up Tuesday on Wall Street:

At the close: DJIA: +0.87%, S&P 500: +1.15%, Nasdaq: +1.46%.

On the commodities front, Oil (NYSE:USO) climbed 0.86 percent to $87.95 per barrel. Precious metals dropped, with Gold (NYSE:GLD) falling 1.51 percent to $1,672.60 per ounce and Silver (NYSE:SLV) falling 1.89 percent to $31.67 per ounce about 17 minutes after the bell.

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

Shares of Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) closed up 2.9 percent on Tuesday, despite a slew of analyst downgrades and U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh denying the company’s bid to block sales of certain Samsung (SSNLF.PK) products. Samsung turned around and decided it would stop seeking a sales ban on Apple products in five European nations.

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General Electric (NYSE:GE) is expected to make an offer to acquire the Italian aerospace company Avio for 3 billion euros, or $3.9 billion, in an attempt to strengthen its commercial jet engine division… (Read more.)

Bad Behavior at the World’s Largest Retailer: The New York Times published an investigation into Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE:WMT), alleging that the Mexico arm of the world’s largest retailer “was an aggressive and creative corrupter, offering large payoffs to get what the law otherwise prohibited.” (Read more.)

Homebuilder Confidence Continues to Rise: Despite the many headwinds facing the economy, homebuilders in the United States continue to feel more optimistic as confidence in the industry reached its highest level in more than six years. In December, the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo index of builder confidence edged higher to 47, compared to a revised 45 in November… (Read more.)

Is a Fiscal Cliff Solution in Sight? With just a handful of days left before the end of the year, Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) will ask his party to accept tax hikes on America’s top earners as part of a balanced solution to the fiscal cliff. Proposing a cut off at an income of $1 million, President Barack Obama has counter-offered a cut off of $400,00… (Read more.)

Gun Stocks Crumble: Shares in top gun makers collapsed this week in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook tragedy on Friday. Smith & Wesson Holding Corp. (NASDAQ:SWHC) fell 5.2 percent on Monday and 10.11 percent on Tuesday, while shares of Sturm, Ruger & Co. Inc. (NYSE:RGR) fell 3.45 percent on Monday and 7.66 percent on Tuesday. Cerberus Capital Management also announced its intention to sell its investment in the Freedom Group, a collection of gun manufacturers… (Read more.)

Don’t Miss: Homebuilders Continue to Raise Confidence Levels.