US Stocks Rise Following Start of Black Friday

United States stock markets reopened on Friday for a shortened session following the Thanksgiving holiday. The thinly traded session marked the fifth day stocks rose in the United States as investors snapped up technology shares. Retail sales in the United States and progress on the bailout tranche in Greece helped to prop up the market.

Microsoft shares advanced by 2.8 percent to $27.70 while Apple Inc. gained by 1.7 percent to a level of $571.50. RIM was also up by 13.6 percent to $11.66. On the Standard & Poor’s 500 index, the technology sector lost 13 percent between the middle of September to mid-November. Yesterday’s gains helped to reduce the losses, but not be the same amount.

Overall, the Nasdaq Composite Index advanced by 1.38 percent, or 40.30 points, to a level of 2,966.85. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose by 172.79 points, or 1.35 percent to a level of 13,009.68. At the same time, the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index gained by 18.12 points to 1,409.15. It rose a total of 1.30 percent during the session. For the first time since November 6, the S&P 500 index and the Dow Jones managed to close the day above two key technical levels. The S&P managed to break the 1,400 barrier while the Dow Jones ended above 13,000.

The S&P managed to end two weeks of losses to advance by 3.6 percent for the week ending on November 23. The Dow Jones rose by 3.3 percent for the week and the Nasdaq advanced by 4 percent over the last week. Previously, the Nasdaq Composite Index posted six consecutive weeks of losses.

The United States stock market was propped up by retail sales. The day after Thanksgiving is traditionally the start of the shopping season for Christmas. Known as Black Friday, it is often the first day that many companies begin to operate in the black. According to the National Retail Federation, sales are supposed to grow by 4.1 percent this year. In 2011, holiday retail sales advanced by 5.6 percent. Target saw its shares rise by 1.2 percent to $64.48 during the session and Wal-Mart posted gains of 1.9 percent to end at $70.20 

Emerging Markets

In Brazil, stocks rose to a 2-1/2 week high by the end of the session. Amid progress in the Eurozone and positive data from Germany, the benchmark Bovespa stock index gained by 2 percent. This marks its best week since the middle of September and a weekly advance of 3.9 percent. For the last few days, Brazilian stocks have often lacked the gains posted in Colombia and Mexico.

Across the continent, Mexico saw its stocks fall after rallying for four days. The benchmark IPC stock index slipped 0.27 percent after rising 3.6 percent over the previous four sessions. As investors become more optimistic about the economy in the United States, Mexico stocks have gained. The US has long been Mexico’s largest trading partner. As fiscal cliff discussions resume this week, their outcome could directly impact the Mexican market.

Some investors believe that Mexican stocks are set to fall since they are already close to record highs. America Movil, run by billionaire Carlos Slim, saw its share prices drop by 0.44 percent. America Movil accounts for over 20 percent of the IPC. Earlier in the month, America Movil was almost at an eight-month low. Mexichem, a maker of plastic pipes, announced that it would stop joint plans with the national oil company, Pemex. The end of this joint venture caused shares in Mexichem to drop by 1.83 percent.

In China, the release of factory sentiment for November showed growth for the first time in the last 13 months. Perceived as the end to China’s economic slowdown, this growth propped up markets in Latin America. Countries like Brazil have China as their largest trading partner and regularly send China raw materials like iron, oil and copper.

Brazil saw shares in Petrobras gain by 2.79 percent while the iron miner, Vale, saw stock prices advance by 1.38 percent. Shares in the utility company, Eletrobras, advanced by 5.48 percent. Earlier in the month Eletrobras dropped by 50 percent to reach its lowest level for 18 years. The fall was attributed to rumors that the government was going to boost economic growth by dropping the cost of energy. Since that time, the Brazilian government has decided not to inject any extra funding into the company.

In Chile, the IPSA index held stable and rose just 0.09 percent during the day. The regional energy conglomerate Enersis advanced by 2.16 percent. On Thursday, Enersis held a shareholder meeting to discuss the private pension fund in Chile and a capital increase.

The Argentine MerVal rose by 4.34 percent to end at 2,339.92 while the Peruvian IGRA advanced by 0.94 percent to 20.227.74. In Venezuela, the IBC lost by 0.34 percent to 384,906.1.

Canadian Shares Hit Peak

In Canada, shares managed to hit a two-week peak on Friday. The session marked the sixth straight day of rallies amid higher forecasts for financial stocks and stronger commodities. Financial shares in Canada rose for the sixth straight day as investors wait for quarterly reports to begin. On November 29, the Royal Bank of Canada is expected to release its reports and the other six major banks are supposed to follow within the next two weeks. Overall, investors expect the banks to report a 10 percent gain in profit since last year.

Overall, Canadian banks have managed to outperform the market over the last month. Much of the gain was due to expectations of profitability despite the economic downturn in international markets. The Royal Bank of Canada saw its shares rise by 0.2 percent to C$57.95 while the Toronto-Dominion Bank gained by 0.5 percent to C$81.40. The Bank of Montreal posted a 0.7 percent advance to C$58.95.

The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index managed to finish the day 0.49 percent higher, or 60.14 points, at a level of 12,213.24. Over the last week, the TSX has advanced by 3 percent.

About the Author
Marcus Holland is editor of the websites and He holds an Honors degree in Business and Finance and regularly contributes to various financial websites.

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