Mid-Day Update: Stocks Ending Shortened Black Friday Session Deep In The Black

U.S. stocks look set to closer higher in Friday's holiday abbreviated session, capping the best weekly gains for the major market indices in nearly five months and snapping a two-week slump. Today's advance for equities was supported by a new survey showing rising confidence among German business leaders. Hopes that political leaders in the United States will act to avoid a fiscal crisis - added to some confidence European leaders can soon fix Greece's debt problems - supported higher stock prices. Energy and material stocks both added over 1% as a group on rising commodity prices today. Shares of technology and consumer discretionary companies also were broadly higher.

Stocks got an early boost after the Munich-based Ifo think-tank released the findings of a survey involving German companies that found they are becoming more upbeat. In particular, export expectations rose strongly and moved back into positive territory along with a corresponding stablizing for orders and demand, Ifo said.

Also today, Greece said the International Monetary Fund agreed to relax its debt-cutting target for the country, suggesting lenders were closer to a deal over vital aid. Euro zone finance ministers, the IMF and European Central Bank earlier this week again failed in a bid to reduce Greek debt to more sustainable levels but are scheduled to meet Monday in a third attempt at resolving the issue.

Stocks also were getting technical support with the S&P 500 moving back above the 1,400 mark. Overall, the market gauge was up about 3% this week, recovering much of its post-election slump as attention returned to the political impasse over tax hikes and spending cuts scheduled to take effect on Jan. 1.

Commodities were mostly higher today. Crude oil for January deliver was up 95 cents at $88.33 per barrel. December natural gas was at $3.90 per 1 million BTU. December gold was up $20.20 to $1,748.40 an ounce while December silver was up 58 cents to $33.82 an ounce. December copper was up 3 cents at $3.52 per pound.

Among energy ETFs , the US Oil Fund was up 18 cents to $32.30 and the US Natural Gas Fund was down 2 cents at $22.94. Among precious-metal funds, the Market Vectors Gold Miners ETF was up 65 cents to $48.72 and the SPDR Gold Shares ETF was up $1.91 to $169.47. The iShares Silver Trust was up 54 cents to $32.83.

Here's where the markets stand early afternoon:

NYSE Composite Index up 777.13 (+1.01%) to 8,189.2.

Dow Jones Industrial Average up 102.36 (+0.80%) to 12,939.25

S&P 500 up 10.63 (+0.82%) to 1,401.67.

Nasdaq Composite Index up 28.24 (+1.08%) to 2,954.70


Nikkei 225 Index up 1.56%

Hang Seng Index up 0.79%

Shanghai China Composite Index up 0.58%

FTSE 100 Index up 0.49%


NYSE Energy Sector Index up 0.86% to 12,416.28

NYSE Financial Sector Index up 0.95% to 4,855.48

NYSE Healthcare Sector Index up 1.05% to 7,794.45


(+) FIZZ, (+14.1%, closer to year highs) Announces special cash dividend of $1.50 to $3.00 a share for shareholders of record on Dec. 5. The beverage company expects to finalize the payout by Nov. 30.

(+) ALU, (+11%) ALU) Said to be in talks with Goldman Sachs Group Inc. for a loan intended to strengthen the company's balance sheet, Bloomberg reports.

(+) RIMM, (+14%) Extending rally after National Bank analyst Kris Thompson yesterday raised his price target for the smartphone- and tablet computer-maker by 25% to $15 a share, citing rising optimism for its new Blackberry 10 devices. Shares rose 18% on Thursday in Toronto Stock Exchange trading.


(-) KITD, (-64.4%) Plunges to new 52-week after saying it will be restating financial statements dating back to 2009 and canceled its stockholders meeting. Former CEO Kaleil Isaza Tuzman today said he would be willing to lead a private equity-backed buyout of video-software firm.

(-) OCZ, (-5.9%, hit new year lows) Discloses U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission investigation tied to postponed Q2 financial results and revenue warning.

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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