- The Washington Times - Friday, November 28, 2008

The stock market maintained advances for the fifth straight session Friday despite listless post-Thanksgiving trading, marking the first time since July 2007 that the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose five consecutive times.

It also marked the Dow’s biggest percentage gain over five sessions since Aug. 8, 1932.

Wall Street shut down three hours early because of the holiday, but the Dow posted gains of 9.7 percent for the four-day week. The broader Standard & Poors 500 rose 12 percent and the tech-heavy Nasdaq increased 10.9 percent for the week.

At Friday’s close, the Dow was up 102.43 to 8829.04, for an advance of 1.17 percent, and the S&P moved up 8.56 to 896.24, or 0.96 percent, The Nasdaq inched forward 3.47 to 1535.57 for a 0.23 percent gain.

The truncated session and the light volume provided little opportunity for analysts to sort through tealeaves to determine why the market moved up yet again at a time of gloomy economic forecasts. But President-elect Barack Obamas assurances to investors earlier in the week that “help is on the way” may have had a lasting effect.

Predictions about why the market acts the way it does better may be left for next week once investors start looking at prospects for the holiday shopping season, which began in earnest Friday.

One report that analysts are sure to examine closely Monday will be data from the manufacturing sector. And the Big Three automakers were expected to return to Capitol Hill Tuesday with restructuring plans intended to convince Congress to give them billions of dollars in loans.

Some retail stocks moved to the upside Friday in anticipation that consumers might spend more than has been predicted, with Macy’s, Inc. wrapping up a 5.6 percent gain.

Consumers, whose purchases account for more than two-thirds of U.S. economic activity, generally have spent more each holiday season. Penny pinching at the most important time of the year for retailers would be troubling.

“You’ve seen all sorts of numbers that point to the fact that discretionary spending in the economy has come to an absolute halt, David Reilly, director of portfolio strategy at Rydex Investments, told the Associated Press.

“This discounting appears to be unbelievable,” he said with reference to retailers. “The retail sector is going to do whatever it can to get people through the door.”

As for oil, the price rose $1.08 to $55.52 a barrel.

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