Stocks Close Up Over 1% on Tech Strength
Stocks closed more than 1 percent higher in a holiday-shortened Friday session, led by strength in big-cap tech stocks. Volume was thin following the Thanksgiving holiday on Thursday.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 172.79 points, or 1.35 percent, to close at 13,009.68 led by tech firms Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft and Cisco . It was the first time the Dow finished above 13,000 since November 6.
All three major averages had their best week in over five months. For the week, the Dow rose 3.3 percent, the S&P climbed 3.6 percent and the Nasdaq jumped 4 percent.
The CBOE Volatility Index, widely considered the best gauge of fear in the market, fell to near 15.
Among key S&P sectors, techs nd telecoms ed the market advance, while utilities lagged.
Retailers were the main focus on "Black Friday" — often the busiest shopping day of the year.
Matthew Shay, National Retail Federation CEO, told CNBC that the holiday shopping season appears to be off to a great start with consumers flocking to the stores. "We're predicting 4.1 percent sales growth this year which would be $585 billion," he said.
Discount retailers Wal-Mart and Target were among the stores that opened their doors on Thanksgiving evening. (Read More: 'Black Friday' Shopping Frenzy Gets Off to Early Start.)
In a press release, Wal-Mart U.S. said it had its "best ever" Black Friday events, selling 1.8 million towels, 1.3 million televisions, 1.3 million dolls and 250,000 bicycles.
Terry Lundgren, Macy's chairman & CEO, told CNBC that the flagship Macy's store in New York City had a record crowd for its midnight opening. "It was a record crowd last year but that crowd was exceeded at this (Herald Square) store certainly this morning," he said.
"Earlier in the week was so surprising," Matthew Cheslock of Virtu Financial told CNBC. "You had one of the biggest accounting scandals possibly, we had an insider trading scandal and the markets still went higher. Now we're focused on retail, which is kind of a nice story. Maybe this gives us a nice little lift."
European stocks ad their best week so far this year, boosted on Friday by strong German business confidence data and growing expectations Greece will receive more aid.
Greece said the International Monetary Fund had relaxed its debt-cutting target for the country, suggesting lenders were closer to a deal for a vital aid tranche to be paid. But other sources involved in the talks cautioned the funding gap was far bigger than Greece has suggested, according to Reuters. (Read More: Greece's Lenders Move Closer to Deal on Funding.)
Turning to stock news, Blackberry maker Research In Motion was the subject of bullish analyst comments about the soon-to-be-released BlackBerry 10.
SAP, the German business software giant, is considering listing its stock in Shanghai.
In deal news, the Wall Street Journal reported that Baxter International is in talks to buy Swedish medical-equipment maker Gambro for about $4 billion in a bid to boost its kidney dialysis business.
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