Daily Data Flow: House Session Set; Market Optimism; Apple CEO’s Pay

Daily Data Flow

S&P 500 Pares Losses as House Sets Session for Dec. 30 (Bloomberg)
U.S. stocks pared most of their earlier losses in the final hour of trading as the House of Representatives was said to plan a session on Dec. 30, fueling optimism a budget deal will be reached. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index dropped 0.1% to 1,418.03 at 4 p.m. in New York, after earlier falling as much as 1.3%. Trading in S&P 500 companies was 8.4% below the 30-day average at this time of day. “The markets remain held hostage to the perceived negotiations in Washington regarding the fiscal cliff,” said Jim Russell, the Cincinnati-based chief equity strategist at U.S. Bank Wealth Management. “It’s our take that there are talks going on and that they’re substantive, but time is growing short.”

As Market Optimism Grows, Is It Time to Get Out? (CNBC)
Mom-and-pop investors may be coming off the sidelines just as the pros are ready to take a breather, setting up a dicey start for 2013. Sentiment surveys indicate a frothy level of enthusiasm for a stock market that weathered a series of storms this year, and the Standard & Poor’s 500 looks set to close with gains of better than 12%. But when regular investors get excited, bad things often follow. “That’s definitely a concern. Sentiment polls are starting to reach high levels of excitement toward equities,” said Ryan Detrick, senior technical strategist at Schaeffer’s Investment Research in Cincinnati. “From a contrarian point of view, that’s clearly piqued my interest.”

Apple CEO’s Pay Takes Big Hit vs. Record ’11 Package (Reuters)
Apple Inc. CEO Tim Cook’s 2012 compensation package of just over $4 million is a huge cut on paper for the top executive of the most valuable U.S. corporation, after a 2011 package fattened by more than $376 million in long-term stock awards. Cook received the largest single pay package awarded to a company CEO in about a decade when he replaced Apple’s legendary co-founder, Steve Jobs, shortly before Jobs’ death in October 2011. The 2012 compensation package for Cook also pales in comparison with his 2010 pay, which was 14 times higher, when he served as chief operating officer. But Tim Ghriskey, chief investment officer of Solaris Group — which counts Apple stock as the biggest holding among the approximately $2 billion it manages — said Cook’s package was “normal CEO compensation.”

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As President Obama and Republicans returned to work this week, there isn’t a lot of investor optimism worldwide that an agreement will be reached before the January 1, 2013, deadline for many fiscal cliff changes.

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