(Reuters) - U.S. stocks gained on Friday, with the Nasdaq and the benchmark S&P 500 hitting records, helped by higher commodity prices and with retail stocks getting a boost on signs of a strong start to the holiday shopping season.
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After two disappointing years, crowds at stores in many locations around the country this year were reported to be strong, according to analysts and retail consultants.
Retailers get as much as 40 percent of their annual sales during the holiday shopping season.
“Being the busiest time of the year for retailers, investors are optimistic that the improved economic activity will continue as we enter the Christmas shopping season,” said Andre Bakhos, managing director at Janlyn Capital.
The S&P retail index .SPXRT was up 0.63 percent to a record high, led by Macy’s (NYSE:M) 4.3 percent jump.
The department store operator’s chief executive told CNBC the company was better off this year than last and was seeing very robust online demand.
Kohl’s (NYSE:KSS), Gap (NYSE:GPS) and J.C. Penney (NYSE:JCP) were up between 2.6 percent and 1.6 percent. Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT) gained about 0.5 percent and electronics retailer Best Buy (NYSE:BBY) was up 0.9 percent.
Their biggest rival, Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN), gained 1.7 percent and provided the biggest boost to the S&P and Nasdaq.
Surging online sales have eaten into the business of brick-and-mortar retailers. By Thanksgiving evening, shoppers had splurged more than $1.52 billion online, 16.8 percent higher than a year ago, according to Adobe Analytics.
“There is going to be a lot of focus by investors as to the breakdown and distribution of online versus brick and mortar,” said Bakhos.
At 10:39 a.m. ET (1449 GMT), the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 44.12 points, or 0.19 percent, at 23,570.3, the S&P 500 was up 4.95 points, or 0.19 percent, at 2,602.03.
The Nasdaq Composite was up 13.03 points, or 0.19 percent, at 6,880.39. The market closes at 1:00 p.m. ET (1700 GMT).
Ten of the 11 major S&P sectors were higher. The energy index’s .SPNY 0.46 percent rise led the advancers, followed by the energy index .SPNY, as commodities prices rose.
U.S. oil prices jumped to a more than two-year high as North American markets tightened on the partial closure of a key pipeline linking Canada and the United States. [O/R]
Exxon (NYSE:XOM) was up 0.4 percent, while Chevron (NYSE:CVX) rose 0.6 percent and was among the top boosts to the S&P and Dow.
Copper climbed towards a one-month high, helped by a weaker dollar and shrinking supplies.
Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by 1,632 to 986. On the Nasdaq, 1,417 issues rose and 1,228 fell.
The S&P 500 index showed 26 new 52-week highs and one new low, while the Nasdaq recorded 84 new highs and 11 new lows.
Reporting by Tanya Agrawal and Rama Venkat Raman; Editing by Savio D'Souza