The stock markets in the United States climbed on Monday as investors no longer seem to be worried about the possibility of a potential reduction of the monthly bond-buying program of the Federal Reserve due to the continues improvement of the economy.

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Last Friday, the Department of Labor reported that the unemployment rate in the country declined to 7% as the economy added 203,000 jobs in November.

In a telephone interview with Bloomberg, Walter Todd, chief investment officer of Greenwood Capital Associates LLC commented, “People are getting more comfortable with the idea of tapering and the concept that the reason for the taper is that the economy is getting stronger. At the end of the day, that’s a good thing not a bad thing. For the next week it’s just going to be speculation around the timing.”

Today, James Bullard, president of Federal Bank of Saint Louis indicated the possibility of a modest tapering of the stimulus given the improvement of the labor market. He said, “A small taper might recognize labor-market improvement while still providing the committee the opportunity to carefully monitor inflation during the first half of 2014.”

On the other hand, Richard Fisher, president of the Federal Bank of Dallas believes the Fed needs to start reducing the stimulus at the “earliest opportunity.”

According to Bloomberg, 34% of economists who participated in its survey projected that the Fed will begin tapering its $85 billion monthly bond-buying program during its December meeting. Last month, 53% of economists forecasted that stimulus reduction will start in March.

U.S. Markets

  • Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA)- 16,020.52 (+0.00%)
  • S&P 500- 1,807.67 (+0.14%)
  • NASDAQ- 4,066.63 (+0.10%)
  • Russell 2000- 1,126.80 (-0.40%)

European Markets

  • EURO STOXX 50 Price EUR- 2,988.67 (+0.29%)
  • FTSE 100 Index- 6,559.48 (+0.11%)
  • Deutsche Borse AG German Stock Index DAX- 9,195.17 (+0.25%)

Asia Pacific Markets

  • Nikkei 225- 15,650.21 (+2.29%)
  • Hong Kong Hang Seng Index- 23,811.17 (+0.29%)
  • Shanghai Shenzhen CSI 300 Index- 2,450.87 (-0.06%)

Stocks in Focus

The shares of Given Imaging Ltd. (NASDAQ:GIVN) increased 27% to $30.05 per share on report that Covidien plc (NYSE:COV) agreed to acquire the Israel-based company, which makes video camera capsules used to diagnose gastrointestinal tracts, for approximately $860 million or $30 per share. In a statement, Covedien’s group president of medical devices & U.S., Bryan Hanson said, “Acquiring Given will enable Covidien to significantly expand its presence in a $3 billion GI [gastrointestinal] market.”

The stock value of Ruby Tuesday, Inc. (NYSE:RT) jumped 5% to $7.16 a share after the restaurant operator engaged the services of Goldman Sachs Group Inc (NYSE:GS) to explore a sale as reported by Debtwire last Friday. Today, the company announced that it agreed to resolve a lawsuit filed by EEOC in 2009. The case in involves three open and three closed restaurants in Ohio and Pennsylvania. EEOC alleged that the restaurant operator discriminated against older workers during the hiring process. Ruby Tuesday strongly denies the allegations.

The stock price of SYSCO Corporation (NYSE:SYY) surged as much as $43.39 per share today after the company announced its merger transaction with for $3.5 billion in cash and stock. Sysco said it will pay U.S. Foods with $3 billion worth of common stock and $500 million cash. It also agreed to assume the $4.7 billion debt of U.S. Foods. The stock ended the trading session on Monday with more than 9% gain to $37.62 per share.