Markets & Finance

Wall Street Finishes Higher


Stocks finished solidly higher Friday in a holiday-shortened session amid bargain-hunting in retail stocks as traders bet that a bustle of holiday-season sales would encourage consumer spending.

Still, volume was light in this post-Thanksgiving session. Traders remain wary of buying stocks amid a war in Afghanistan and soon-to-come economic data that will reveal whether the U.S. economy will recuperate in 2002.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 125.03 points, or 1.27%, to 9,959.71. The Nasdaq composite index added 27.95 points, or 1.49%, to 1,903.00. The broader Standard & Poor's 500 index climbed 13.27 points, or 1.17%, to 1,150.30.

Retailers and airline stocks rose. Federated Department Stores (FD) and Wal-Mart (WMT) made solid gains, as did US Airways (U) and UAL Corp. (UAL).

Oil stocks including Exxon Mobil (XON) recovered after earlier losses on news that Russia defied calls from OPEC to help prop up oil prices. Russia agreed to slash production by a minimal 0.7%,

or 50,000 barrels per day, for the rest of the year.

Shares of Enron (ENE) fell slightly after the beleaguered U.S. energy firm says it plans to use its minority interests in power plants to secure a restructured $690 million loan agreement. Enron

has dropped amid increasing worries about its credit and concerns that a proposed rescue by Dynegy (DYN) could fall through.

Swedish mobile systems maker Ericsson (ERICY) rose after saying said it expected fewer rivals in the new market for third-generation wireless telephony.

Looking ahead to next week, a number of key economic data reports are scheduled for release. Tuesday brings the release of reports on existing home sales, weekly retail sales and consumer confidence via the Conference Board. The University of Michigan's confidence report of Nov. 21 has stolen some thunder from the Conference Board's upcoming release, but any further signs that confidence has stabilized from the the September 11 shock would be welcome. Weekly retail sales data , also due Tuesday, will serve as a gauge of how consumer spending held up over Thanksgiving week (through Nov. 24) -- normally the busiest shopping period of the year.

On Wednesday, the Fed's Beige Book will provide an updated check on the health of the U.S. economy. According to MMS, there should be some improvement from the poor profile of the previous report. Weekly initial jobless claims -- which are garnering an increasing amount of attention from the markets -- are due on Thursday, as is durable good orders. Revised third quarter GDP and the November report on the Chicago purchasing managers' index are due on Friday.

Treasury Market

Treasuries fell on profit-taking on hopes that an economic recovery in the U.S. would keep the Federal Reserve from cutting interest rates again.

World Markets

European markets ended mixed. In London, the Financial Times-Stock Exchange 100 index lost 52.70 points, or 0.99%, to 5,293.20. In France, the CAC 40 fell 25.98 points, or 0.56%, to 4,573.82. In Germany, the DAX Index added 7.82 points, or 0.56%, to 5,132.36 after sliding earlier on a report that the

German economy shrank 0.1% in the third quarter.

In Asia, the markets finished higher. The Nikkei added 35.74 points, or 0.34%, to 10,696.82. In Hong Kong, the market gained 69.06 points, or 0.61%, to 11,322.36.


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