US stocks rally on Black Friday sales

US stocks rallied Friday on signs that the holiday shopping season was off to a good start, with retail behemoth Walmart calling it the "best ever" Black Friday.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 172.79 points (1.35 percent) at 13,009.68.

The broad-market S&P 500 index advanced 18.12 (1.30 percent) to 1,409.15, while the Nasdaq Composite climbed 40.30 (1.38 percent) to 2,966.85.

Stocks built on strong opening gains amid thin volumes in the holiday-shortened session, which closed three hours earlier than usual at 1:00 pm (1800 GMT).

US markets had been shut Thursday in observance of the Thanksgiving holiday.

Retail stocks were in focus on Black Friday, the traditional discount sales day that kicks off the holiday shopping season.

"Equities were higher today, with optimism regarding the holiday shopping season aided by a statement from Dow member Wal-Mart Stores Inc calling the day its 'best ever,'" Charles Schwab & Co. analysts said.

Hewlett-Packard was the biggest Dow gainer, adding 4.2 percent, followed by Microsoft, up 2.8 percent.

Dow member Wal-Mart jumped 1.9 percent. The world's biggest retailer reported strong sales Black Friday, despite strikes and protests by unhappy employees.

Earlier Walmart's Indian unit announced it had suspended several employees as part of an internal bribery probe.

Big-box rival Target was up 1.2 percent, Macy's gained 1.8 percent and Saks jumped 3.1 percent.

Research in Motion soared 13.7 percent after an analyst upwardly revised sales estimates for the new BlackBerry 10, due in January.

General Motors climbed 2.5 percent. Its finance arm announced late Wednesday that it had struck a deal to buy Ally Financial's European, Latin American and Chinese operations for about $4.2 billion.

On Wednesday, stocks made modest gains in light pre-Thanksgiving trade after Israel and Hamas reached a cease-fire agreement.

Bond prices were flat. The 10-year US Treasury yield was unchanged from 1.69 percent late Wednesday, while the 30-year held at 2.83 percent.

Bond prices and yields move inversely.

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