Despite the end of the world as we know it occurring in less than 24 hours (darn you, Mayans!), it doesn't appear to be affecting investor sentiment, as the broad-based S&P 500 rallied solidly late in the day. The impetus for the late-day boost appears to be that initial hurdles to get the Republican version of a fiscal cliff deal through the House of Representatives, known loosely as "Plan B," passed its first round of tests, and is set to go to debate and possible vote by later today. Before you get your hopes too high, however, remember that the President and the Democrat-led Senate will also get their say, even if it passes the House.

On the day, the S&P 500 ended up 7.88 points (0.55%), to finish at 1,443.69.

The biggest gain of the day (by far) was the NYSE Euronext , owner of the New York Stock Exchange, which skyrocketed 34% after agreeing to be purchased by IntercontinentalExchange for $8.2 billion. The move will help ICE become a competitive global derivatives company, gaining hold of Liffe, Europe's second-largest derivatives market in the deal, and will better allow it to compete against CME Group within the United States. Previous deals to purchase the NYSE by the Deutsche Bourse and Nasdaq OMX Group  led to a stalemate, due to regulatory concerns. However, with little overlap in businesses, and ICE expected to spin off the Euronext portion of the business, the deal is widely expected to gain approval.


For each positive story, though, there are always a few bad apples to spoil the bunch.

Home furnishings retailer Bed, Bath & Beyond tumbled 6.5%, after providing fourth-quarter and fiscal 2012 guidance that fell below Wall Street's expectations. Bed, Bath & Beyond is now forecasting fourth-quarter and full-year EPS to range between $1.60-$1.67 and $4.48-$4.54, respectively, yet the current consensus sits at $1.75 and $4.62, respectively. With the potential for consumer spending to be constrained even further with higher taxes on the horizon, this is a name I'd rather just avoid.

Robotic surgical device manufacturer Intuitive Surgical had its second horrible day in a row, ending lower by 5.3%, following a report by short-selling specialist Citron Research that suggests Intuitive's premium valuation may not be merited. My personal opinion is that, as a leader in surgical devices and with little competition on the horizon, Intuitive has the pricing power to drive revenue higher by high double-digits for the next three-to-five years. As I said yesterday, I respectfully disagree with Citron's opinion of Intuitive Surgical.

Dissecting a lemon?

Intuitive Surgical is disruptive innovator. A true renegade in the health-care industry, the company rebelled against the status quo to lead a revolution in medical robotics. Early investors experienced unimaginable gains, some making as much as 30 times their initial investment. Even with those enormous gains in the rearview mirror, the stock could have plenty of room to run into the future. In a brand new premium report on Intuitive Surgical, we've commissioned Karl Thiel to outline the company's key opportunities and risks with surgical precision. As one of the minds behind our Rule Breakers recommendation of the stock in 2005 (before it went on to gain more than 1,000%), Thiel knows the Intuitive Surgical story inside and out. It's a must-read for any current or prospective investor, and comes loaded with a full year of analyst updates. Make sure to claim your copy today by clicking here now.

The article This Is the Reason the S&P 500 Rallied Late in the Day originally appeared on Fool.com.

Fool contributor Sean Williams but has no material interest in any companies mentioned in this article. You can follow him on CAPS under the screen name TMFUltraLong, track every pick he makes under the screen name TrackUltraLong, and check him out on Twitter, where he goes by the handle @TMFUltraLong. The Motley Fool owns shares of CME Group. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of NYSE Euronext, Bed, Bath & Beyond, and Intuitive Surgical. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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