Stocks Finish Higher

The major averages extended the recent run up as the official holiday shopping season kicked off

Stocks posted small gains on Black Friday, after the recent runup to four-year highs. The markets closed early in observance of the Thanksgiving Day holiday.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 15.53 points to 10,931.62. The broader Standard & Poor's 500 index was up 2.64 points to 1,268.25. The tech-heavy Nasdaq composite index gained 3.03 points to 2,263.01.

Next week's economic plate is full, culminating Friday with the November employment report and comments from Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan. Monday's docket has only existing home sales. Tuesday's schedule includes durable goods, consumer confidence, and new home sales. Wednesday includes revised third-quarter gross domestic product (GDP), Chicago PMI, and the Fed's Beige Book for the Dec. 13 FOMC meeting. ISM, personal income, PCE, vehicle sales, and jobless claims are all due out Thursday.

Retailers saw interest as shoppers flocked to stores on Black Friday, the official kick off of the holiday shopping season. "Anecdotal evidence suggests retailers have come charging out of the gate with very aggressive pricing to get consumers into the store, and it seems to be working," says Action Economics. Indeed, the National Retail Federation (NRF) says this could be one of the best post-Thanksgiving period in memory. The NRF projects holiday sales to be up 6% relative to last year, says Action Economics.

Early signs pointed to strength in electronic retailers as consumers wish for gadgets, says Standard & Poor's MarketScope. Best Buy (BBY ) shares rose.

Among companies in the news, Taser International (TASR ) says due to a delay in filing its third-quarter 10-Q, it received a letter from the NASDAQ indicating its stock subject to delisting pursuant to the NASDAQ Marketplace Rule.

Property and casualty insurance giant XL Capital (XL ) was off 8% on a report that indicates it may lose an arbitration settlement. The dispute involves its acquisition of certain Winterthur International insurance operations.

In deal news, utility NorthWestern Corp. (NWEC ) received a bid from Black Hills Corp. (BHK ) of $33-$35 per share in common stock of combined company.

In Europe, London's FTSE-100, Germany's DAX, and France's CAC-40 indexes rose modestly. In Asia, Japan's Nikkei index rose 41.71 points to 14,784.29. The Hang Seng index edged down 2.92 points to 15,081.47.

Treasury Market

The shortened holiday session Friday was marked by lower yields after catching up with the eurozone on Thursday following the surpringly damp German Ifo report, says Action Economics. The absense of liquidity drove a brief flurry of activity in the currency market, which left the dollar at over 2-year highs, says Action Economics. The 10-year note yield fell to 4.43%.

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