- The Washington Times - Saturday, November 29, 2008

NEW YORK | Wall Street kept up a broad winning streak Friday, giving blue-chip stocks their fifth straight advance as investors looked for clues about whether dire predictions for the holiday shopping season would prove accurate.

The stock market closed three hours early the day after Thanksgiving and locked gains of 9.7 percent for the week for the Dow Jones industrial average and 12 percent for the broader Standard & Poor’s 500 index. The Nasdaq, which had moderate losses earlier in the week, still logged a weekly advance of 10.9 percent.

Analysts largely discounted Friday’s moves, however, as occurring in light trading volume. The true test of whether the market’s gains will hold will come next week as traders return from long weekends. Wall Street will have to digest a slew of economic reports ranging from a reading on the manufacturing sector on Monday to the all-important employment report from the Labor Department on Friday.

Even with light trading volume, Wall Street’s ability to continue its climb was welcome. Only last week, the S&P; 500 posted its lowest close since 1997 and touched off more worries about how far the market would slide.

Now, investors are examining the prospects for the holiday shopping period, which began in earnest Friday. Wall Street expects retailers will suffer as consumers, nervous about lost jobs, falling home values and a jittery stock market, grow more restrained in their spending this year.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the world´s largest retailer, decreased 81 cents to $55.88.

Target, the second-largest U.S. discount retailer, fell $1.37 to $33.76. Tiffany & Co., the world´s second-biggest luxury-jewelry retailer, lost 5.4 percent to $19.79. Amazon.com Inc., the world´s biggest Internet retailer, declined 2.9 percent to $42.70.

Citigroup was by far the biggest gainer among the 30 stocks that make up the Dow industrials, rising $1.24, or 17.6 percent, to $8.29. Just a week ago, the bank’s stock was selling off precipitously, before the government put together a rescue plan for the bank.

Bank of America Corp. advanced 5.3 percent to $16.25, while JPMorgan Chase & Co. rose 3.4 percent to $31.66.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 102.43, or 1.17 percent, to 8,829.04.

Broader stock indicators also rose. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index advanced 8.56, or 0.96 percent, to 896.24, while the Nasdaq composite index rose 3.47, or 0.23 percent, to 1,535.57 after spending much of the session lower. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies rose 4.28, or 0.91 percent, to 473.14.

About 787 million shares changed hands on the NYSE in the slowest trading session of the year. U.S. exchanges were closed Thursday for the Thanksgiving holiday and closed at 1 p.m. Friday.

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