Market ends 2012 on a high, if wary, note

‘Within sight,’ the president said. ‘Very, very close,’ added the Senate minority leader. One trader hoped ‘Congress can at least defuse the ticking time bomb’ — with a fiscal cliff deal. Stocks soared as hope grew. The S&P 500 had its biggest yearly gain since 2009, a 13.4% rise that extended its rally to 111 percent since March 2009. Financial stocks had a stellar year, leading the S&P 500. Utilities, often seen as a safe haven, were the worst performers, off 2.9%. The Dow rose 7.3% for the year; the Nasdaq, 15.9%. Some of the stars were making up for deep losses; builder PulteGroup, for instance, nearly tripled after falling for five of the previous six years.