The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

State and Nation

November 23, 2012

Stocks soar on Black Friday; tech leads the way

(Continued)

China's manufacturing expanded for the first time in 13 months in November, the latest sign that the world's second-biggest economy is recovering from its deepest slump since the 2008 global crisis. HSBC Corp. said its monthly Purchasing Managers' Index improved to 50.4 for November. Any number above 50 indicates expansion.

The PMI measures overall manufacturing activity by surveying indicators including orders, employment and production. The result was released Thursday, when the U.S. market was closed for Thanksgiving.

Around the U.S., shoppers flocked to malls and logged on to computers to take part in the annual cheer-fueled retail rush known as Black Friday.

Target and Toys R Us welcomed buyers on Thanksgiving evening. Retailers are also trying to draw shoppers with free layaway and shipping, by matching prices of online rivals and by beefing up mobile shopping apps.

Retail is a key driver of the nation's economy. Consumer spending accounts for about 70 percent of U.S. economic activity. November and December, which can account for as much as 40 percent of a retailer's annual revenue, are crucial for stores.

The Friday after Thanksgiving is known as Black Friday because it begins the period in which many retailers turn profitable for the year. Traders will be looking for signs about how enthusiastically Americans are spending. That could reflect the momentum of the economic recovery.

Wal-Mart rose $1.31, or 1.9 percent, to $70.20. Macy's gained 72 cents, or 1.8 percent, to $41.73.

Trading volume on Wall Street was light, with many investors away for an extended weekend after Thanksgiving. The rally's strength will be tested on Monday, as many traders return to their desks and retailers begin to release hard data about their holiday sales results, Kinahan said.

"It's great when something like this happens, but on a half-day without the major players in there, it's not so surprising," he said.

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