Tech Stocks Rise in Paper-Thin Trading

Technology stocks rose Friday as investors welcomed data showing a strong rise in semiconductor sales last month, but blue-chips barely moved amid worries about the weak dollar and virtually empty trading desks.

At the early 1 p.m. close, The technology-focused Nasdaq Composite Index (search) ended up 6.95 points, or 0.36 percent, at 1,960.26.

The Dow Jones industrial average (search) notched up its fifth straight winning session, up 2.89 points, or 0.03 percent, at 9,782.46. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index (search) closed down 0.25 point, or 0.02 percent, at 1,058.20.

The major indexes were all up for the week, reversing two previous weeks of losses. The Dow rose 1.6 percent for the week, Nasdaq rose 3.5 percent, while the S&P 500 was up 2.2 percent.

For the month of November, the Dow fell 0.2 percent, Nasdaq was up 1.5 percent and the S&P 500 added 0.7 percent. The Dow has risen in seven of the last nine months, while the S&P 500 has gained in eight of the last nine months. November's gain for the Nasdaq marked the ninth monthly gain in the last 10 months.

Thin staffing on trading floors across Wall Street kept a lid on buying on the day after the Thanksgiving holiday, historically one of the lowest volume days of the year.

Next week, the government will issue November unemployment data as well as reports on construction spending, productivity and factory orders. The Institute for Supply Management will issue its indexes of manufacturing and service sector activity.

"People are making sure portfolios are positioned for more good economic news early next week," said Frederic Dickson, director of retail research at D.A. Davidson & Co. in Portland, Oregon. "Those who did come to work today were looking at the dollar, which set a new record low against the euro. That may have taken a bit of damper from Bush's surprise visit to Iraq, which should have been a morale booster to the troops and the market."

Traders said they were keeping an eye on the dollar on Friday, which sagged against some of its rivals in thin trade. The greenback sank to a record low versus the euro on Friday, as investors sold the dollar after it failed to rally on strong U.S. economic data earlier this week. The euro hit an all-time high against the dollar above $1.20.

Technology stock trading on Friday was dominated by a report showing that global sales of semiconductors in October had their strongest month-on-month growth since March 2002, on the back of strong demand for a wide range of electronics products, according to a monthly industry survey.

Chip equipment maker Applied Materials Inc. (AMAT) was one of the strongest gainers, rising 51 cents, or 2.1 percent, to $24.30. The Philadelphia Stock Exchange's semiconductor index was up 1.2 percent.

Retail stores were in the spotlight on Friday, which marks one of the year's biggest spending days and begins the crucial holiday shopping season.

The day after Thanksgiving, known as "Black Friday," kicks off the crucial holiday spending season. This year, most U.S. retailers are anticipating a stronger holiday shopping season than last year thanks to the rebounding economy.

"People are making sure portfolios are positioned for more good economic news early next week," said Frederic Dickson, director of retail research at D.A. Davidson & Co. in Portland, Oregon.

With a lack of any hard data on the shape of the holiday spending season, sector bellwether Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT), the world's biggest company by revenue, dipped 6 cents to $55.64. The Standard & Poor's retail index rose 0.35 percent.

Schering-Plough Corp. (SGP) shares topped the New York Stock Exchange's most active list, on news that its chief executive bought $4.68 million worth of company stock. Its shares rose 67 cents, or 4.4 percent, to close at $16.05.

Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) fell 41 cents to $49.29, following the company's announcement Thursday that it had suspended trials of an anemia drug, Procrit, because some patients had developed blood clotting.

About 486 million shares changed hands on the New York Stock Exchange, making the shortened Friday session the lowest volume day so far this year, an exchange spokeswoman said.

About 703 million shares were traded on Nasdaq, less than half the daily average.

Advancers outpaced decliners 3 to 2 on the NYSE and about 7 to 5 on Nasdaq.

The Russell 2000 index, which tracks smaller company stocks, was up 1.20, or 0.2 percent, to 546.51.

Overseas, Japan's Nikkei stock average finished Tuesday down 0.6 percent. In Europe, France's CAC-40 lost 0.2 percent, Britain's FTSE 100 declined 0.4 percent and Germany's DAX index was essentially unchanged.

Reuters and the Associated Press contributed to this report.