Stocks Take Off on Buying Opportunities

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Mimicking consumers on the biggest traditional shopping day of the year, investors returned to Wall Street to buy on Friday, elevating the markets after a pre-holiday slump.

The Dow Jones industrial average jumped 125.03 points, or 1.27 percent, to close at 9,959.71. The broader Standard & Poor's 500 Index gained 13.31 points, or 1.17 percent, to 1,150.34, while the technology-laced Nasdaq Composite Index advanced 28.15 points, or 1.50 percent, to 1,903.20.

The rise in stock prices, despite the absence of news, shows some investors see buying opportunities after market backtracking earlier this week, analysts said.

"Maybe the warm afterglow of a nice turkey dinner is putting people in the mood to buy some stocks," said Jon Brorson, director of equities at Northern Trust, which oversees $330 billion.

Optimism that the holiday shopping season is getting off to a good start was also helping keep Wall Street in a better mood, as anecdotal reports trickled in from shopping malls around the country the day after the Thanksgiving holiday.

U.S. consumers mobbed shopping malls on Friday, traditionally the busiest shopping day of the year, a sign that shoppers were willing to spend.

The S&P Retail Department Store index rose 2.63 percent.

Discount retailer Wal-Mart gained 71 cents to $55.83, while Federated, parent of department stores Bloomingdale's and Macy's, gained $1.10 to $38.21.

U.S. energy firm Enron Corp., which has already plunged to its lowest levels for more than a decade amid worries about its credit standing and fears a proposed rescue by Dynegy Inc. could fall through, was the most actively traded NYSE stock for the third consecutive session. Enron fell 27 cents to $4.74. Dynegy rose 64 cents to $40.40.

Enron plans to use its minority interests in power plants to secure a restructured $690 million loan agreement, a source familiar with the deal said late Wednesday.

One bright spot was Swedish mobile phone giant Ericsson, which got a lift after it announced Thursday that it expects fewer rivals in the new market for third-generation wireless telephony. It climbed 33 cents to $5.55.

In what may be a vote of confidence in the world economy's recovery prospects, Goldman Sachs said it made a shift in its global asset allocation, raising its weighting in U.S. equities and cutting its stance on Japanese equities.

In the latest merger news, U.S. telecommunications services company D&E Communications Inc. said it agreed to buy Conestoga Enterprises Inc. for $273.3 million in cash, stock or a combination of both.

D&E slumped $2.45 to $17.60, while Conestoga jumped $5.60 to $29.95.

The U.S. stock market closed early on Friday at 1 p.m. EST, the day after Thanksgiving.
Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by a nearly 3-to-1 margin on the New York Stock Exchange, where volume came to 409.99 million shares, less than half of Wednesday's pace.

For the week, the Nasdaq inched up 0.23 percent, the Dow gained 0.94 percent and the S&P 500 rose 1.02 percent.

The Russell 2000 index, which tracks smaller company stocks, rose 6.11 to 458.42.

Overseas, markets were mixed. In Europe, Germany's DAX index rose 0.2 percent, while Britain's FT-SE 100 was off 1 percent, and France's CAC-40 fell 0.6 percent. Japanese markets were closed Friday for a national holiday.

Reuters and the Associated Press contributed to this report.