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Stocks edge higher following retail sales data

Stocks edge higher following retail sales data

Stocks edged higher in early trading Monday as investors returning from a long holiday weekend were heartened by good news on retail sales.
Shares of major retailers rose after data showed shoppers opened their wallets more this holiday season, a good sign that consumers are feeling better about the economy.
Figures from MasterCard Advisors' SpendingPulse, which track all forms of payment, show retail sales rose 3.6 percent from Nov. 1 through Dec. 24, compared with a 2.3 percent drop a year ago. Adjusting for an extra shopping day between Thanksgiving and Christmas, the number was closer to a 1 percent gain.
Consumer spending is one of the biggest drivers of U.S. economic growth and is vital to a sustained recovery.
Commodities prices rose as the dollar fell, giving a boost to energy and materials stocks. Bond prices fell ahead of an auction of two-year notes.
Keeping the market's gains in check, airline stocks fell after two security incidents on Northwest flights this weekend.
Stocks are currently at their highest levels of the year, and in the absence of any bad news, analysts say the market is likely to drift higher during the final days of 2009. Trading volume has been extremely light due to the holidays, which can exaggerate price swings. Markets were closed on Friday for Christmas and will be closed again this Friday for New Year's Day.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 9.44, or 0.1 percent, to 10,529.54. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 0.48, or 0.04 percent, to 1,126.96, and the Nasdaq composite index rose 4.35, or 0.2 percent, to 2,290.04.
Major stock indexes ended a holiday-shortened session Thursday at new 2009 highs following upbeat reports on unemployment and durable goods orders. This week, readings on home prices and consumer confidence are among the few economic reports expected.
Stocks have managed to grind higher this month despite lingering concerns about the economic recovery. But the gains have been more subdued than in recent months as investors have held back on taking risks heading into the end of the year. The Standard & Poor's 500 index is up 66.5 percent since hitting 12-year lows in March.
Bond prices fell, pushing yields higher ahead of a fresh round of government auctions. The Treasury Department will issue $44 billion of two-year notes later Monday, followed by $42 billion of five-year notes on Tuesday and $32 billion of seven-year notes on Wednesday. Investors often sell bonds heading into auctions in an effort to command higher yields.
The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note, which moves opposite its price, rose to 3.85 percent from 3.80 percent Thursday.
Commodities prices rose as the dollar fell. Commodities are priced in U.S. dollars, so when the greenback is weak they become more attractive to foreign buyers.
The ICE Futures U.S. dollar index, which measures the dollar against other major currencies, slipped 0.2 percent. Oil prices gained 62 cents to $78.67 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Gold prices also rose.
Among retail stocks, Macy's Inc. rose 45 cents, or 2.6 percent, to $18.02. JCPenney & Co. added 44 cents to $27.46.
Shares of Delta Air Lines Inc., which owns Northwest, fell 27 cents, or 2.3 percent, to $11.50. A failed attack on a Northwest flight on Christmas Day and another incident on the same flight to Detroit from Amsterdam on Sunday raised security concerns over the weekend.
About five stocks rose for every four that fell on the New York Stock Exchange where volume came to a low 137.6 million shares.
In other trading, the Russell 2000 index of smaller companies slipped 0.42, or 0.1 percent, to 633.65.


Updated : 2021-02-25 16:39 GMT+08:00