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Stocks end shortened session with moderate gains

SHARE Stocks end shortened session with moderate gains

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 and as Wall Street faces a slew of economic data ranging from a reading on the manufacturing sector on Monday to the all-important employment report from the Labor Department on Friday.

But even with light trading volume and at times modest moves higher, Wall Street's ability to continue its overall climb was welcome. Only last week, the S&P 500 posted its lowest close since 1997 and touched off another set of worries about how far the market would slide.

But with President-elect Barack Obama reassuring the market by appointing an economic team and the government stepping in to prop up Citigroup Inc., investors have found some reassurance that even broader efforts are being made to fight the financial crisis that intensified in September with the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc.

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. But some retail stocks rose Friday as some investors hoped the predictions have been overly dour. Macy's Inc. added 5.6 percent in the session.

According to preliminary calculations, 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.