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Stocks Finish Higher After Dubai News

Stocks pulled off a modest gain Monday, led by banks, after Dubai World said it would try to restructure about $26 billion of its debt.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 34.92, or 0.3 percent, to close at 10,344.84. The S&P 500 gained 0.4 percent and the Nasdaq added 0.3 percent.

For November, the Dow gained 6.5 percent — its fifth straight monthly gain. The S&P advanced 5.7 percent and the Nasdaq climbed 4.9 percent.

Ten out of 10 key S&P sectors finished the month higher, led by materials, health-care and industrials.

The dollar finished lower for a ninth straight month. Gold gained 17 percentthis month to close at $1,181.10 an ounce, and oil gained 10 percentto settle at $77.28 a barrel.

News that Dubai would try to restructure about $26 billion of its nearly $60 billion in debt helped contain worries about a possible default — and helped the market recover in the final half-hour of trading today.

News about Dubai's debt woes last week rippled through global markets and US stocks tumbled 1.5 percent on Friday.

"It appears the market is coming to the conclusion that Dubai is a small, localized event," said Charles Lieberman, chief investment officer of Advisors Capital Management, told Reuters.

Last week, Mohammed El-Erian had suggested that maybe now, investors will be more closely focused on fundamentals. Today, he said Washington needs to implement "structural policy"to prevent another credit crisis.

Earlier, there was some encouraging economic news for the US: The Institute for Supply Management-Chicago reported its gauge of regional business activity rose to 56.1in November from 54.2 in October, the strongest reading since August 2008.

In Monday's market action, financials were the biggest gainers, with Bank of America , JPMorgan and American Express leading the Dow pack, as fears about U.S. bank exposure to Dubai subsided. European banks were actually the most heavily exposed.

The S&P financial-sector index jumped 2.7 percent.

Steel stocks got a boost after Goldman Sachs upgraded the sector to "attractive" from "neutral," saying prices have hit bottom, demand from China is strong and the weak dollar is helping. The brokerage also raised its price target on U.S. Steel to $54 from $49.

Chip stocks were the other strong sector today after an SIA report showed global semiconductor sales rose 5.1 percentin October from September as electronics makers boosted production for the holidays.

Industrials took a hit after UBS downgraded the sector to "underweight" from "neutral," saying demand remained weak.

Winterizing Your Portfolio - A CNBC Special Report
Winterizing Your Portfolio - A CNBC Special Report

Retailers finished mostly lower as some early holiday numbers from the National Retail Federation showed that, while there were more shoppers this year, they spent less. On average, shoppers spent $343.31 this weekend, compared to $372.57 on the same weekend a year ago.

Shoppers may have been spending less at the malls, but they were spending more than ever at the movie box office. Total movie ticket sales for the holiday weekend hit a record $278 million, breaking the record set in 2000. The latest installment of "Twilight" led the box office surge.

Department stores were the surprise winners this weekend, drawing more traffic than discount chains, as shoppers opted to take advantage of the big sales to stock up on clothing and other items for themselves that they'd put off during the recession.

There was a lot of buzz about online shopping today, the day marketers dub "Cyber Monday," an antiquated term referring to when shoppers got back to the office — and their high-speed Internet connections. Despite all the hype, it has never been one of the biggest online shopping days of the season. Those days are typically in the weeks leading up to Christmas — the final days that retailers guarantee delivery by Christmas.

There is, however, typically an uptick in online shopping on this day, but this year may be different: Analysts say many employees are abstaining from online shopping at work this year, for fear of losing their jobs.

Most retail stocks were lower but Amazon , eBay and Bed, Bath & Beyond advanced. Amazon shares finished at an all-time high at $135.91.

Teen chain Abercrombie and Fitch was upgraded by FBR to "outperform" from "market perform."

Volume was just a tad on the light side, with 1.35 billion shares changing hands on the New York Stock Exchange. Advancers outpaced decliners, roughly 18 to 13.

This Week:

TUESDAY: Auto sales; pending-home sales; ISM manufacturing; construction spending; Fed's Plosser speaks; Obama speaks; Earnings from Staples
WEDNESDAY: Weekly mortgage applications; weekly crude inventories; Challenger, ADP jobs reports; Fed's Lacker speaks; Fed's beige book; Earnings from Aeropostale
THURSDAY: Chain-store sales; weekly jobless claims; ECB, UK rate meetings; Bernanke renomination hearing; ISM services index; Earnings from Toll Brothers, Marvell Tech and Novell
FRIDAY: November jobs report; Fed's Plosser, Bullard speak; factory orders; Earnings from Big Lots

Send comments to cindy.perman@nbcuni.com.