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Stocks post 5th straight advance

November 29, 2008|Associated Press

NEW YORK — Wall Street climbed again Friday, wrapping up its biggest five-day rally in more than 75 years, despite signs of a bleak holiday season for retailers and fears that a flurry of reports next week will show more economic distress.

In an abbreviated post-Thanksgiving session, investors snapped up the battered shares of blue-chip stalwarts Citigroup, General Motors and Ford Motor, extending a rally that has surprised many market players whipsawed by wild swings in the last three months.

Stocks got boosts in the last five sessions from President-elect Barack Obama's naming his economic team, the government's propping up Citigroup and the Federal Reserve's deciding to buy massive amounts of mortgage-backed securities.

Just last week, the Standard & Poor's 500 index fell to its lowest point since 1997 while Citigroup and GM were trading at 15-year and 70-year lows, respectively.

Although the market's strong rebound was certainly welcome, analysts were reluctant to get too optimistic.

Trading volume was very light Friday, and next week investors will be digesting a slew of economic data, including a reading on the manufacturing sector and the Labor Department's employment report.

Both are expected to be dismal.

"We're seeing some confidence come back into this stock market, but I don't think that's necessarily a reason to be dropping our guard," said Scott Fullman, director of derivatives investment strategy for WJB Capital Group in New York.

"You still have to be cautious. There's opportunity, but you have to be extremely selective and defensive."

On Friday the Dow Jones industrial average rose 102.43 points, or 1.2%, to 8,829.04.

Broader stock indicators also rallied. The S&P 500 index advanced 8.56 points, or 1%, to 896.24, while the Nasdaq composite index climbed 3.47 points, or 0.2%, to 1,535.57 after spending much of the session lower.

The Russell 2,000 index of smaller companies gained 0.9%.

Advancing issues outpaced decliners by more than 2 to 1 on the New York Stock Exchange.

For the five trading days beginning Nov. 21, the Dow and the Nasdaq jumped 17% while the S&P surged 19%. It was the Dow's biggest five-day rally since 1932 and the S&P's biggest since 1933.

For both the Dow and the S&P, it was the first streak of five gains since July 2007.

The month of November wiped out $1 trillion of shareholder wealth, but the last five days gained $1.2 trillion, according to the Dow Jones Wilshire 5000 index, which reflects the value of nearly all U.S. stocks.

Citigroup was by far the biggest gainer Friday among the 30 stocks that make up the Dow industrials, rising $1.24, or 18%, to $8.29.

Last week the bank's stock was falling precipitously, before the government put together a plan to backstop more than $300 billion of the bank's assets.

Shares of Detroit's publicly traded automakers rose two business days before they are due to send restructuring plans to Capitol Hill in an effort to obtain federal aid.

GM rose 43 cents to $5.24, while Ford rose 54 cents to $2.69.

Overseas, a key stock index in India rose 0.7% a day after trading was suspended because of the terrorist attacks in Mumbai, the country's financial capital.

Elsewhere, shares rose 1.5% in Britain, 0.1% in Germany and 0.4% in France. Japanese stocks fell 0.2%.

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