Gains for Retailers and Energy Companies Send Stocks Higher

U.S. stocks are on track for more records Friday as retailers climb at the start of the post-Thanksgiving shopping period. The CEO of Macy’s said Black Friday sales are going well. Energy companies rose after Bloomberg reported that a group of key oil producers plans to extend their cuts in production until the end of 2018.

KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 6 points, or 0.3 percent, to 2,603 as of 11:45 a.m. Eastern time. That’s higher than its record close from Tuesday. The Dow Jones industrial average added 54 points, or 0.2 percent, to 23,580. The Nasdaq composite gained 20 points, or 0.3 percent, to 6,888 after it closed at a record high Wednesday. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies held steady at 1,517.

Trading was muted after the Thanksgiving holiday. U.S. markets will close at 1 p.m. ET.

RETAIL OFF TO THE RACES: Macy’s CEO Jeffrey Gennette told CNBC holiday shopping is off to a good start with few discounts and strong sales of some especially profitable products like winter clothing. Macy’s gained 76 cents, or 3.7 percent, to $21.39 and other department stores climbed as well.

Experts are mostly predicting strong sales over the holiday shopping period because of increased consumer confidence and a very low unemployment rate. The National Retail Federation trade group expects sales to grow at least as fast as they did last year.

Big retailers like Wal-Mart and Urban Outfitters and Gap have also reported strong quarterly results recently. On Friday, Gap added 75 cents, or 2.6 percent, to $29.92. Video game retailer GameStop rose 48 cents, or 2.8 percent, to $17.86.

Amazon’s stock rose $22.37, or 1.9 percent, to $1,178.53.

OIL: U.S. benchmark crude rose 66 cents, or 1.1 percent, to $58.68 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, fell 6 cents to $63.49 a barrel in London.

Bloomberg reported that the nations of OPEC and Russia have agreed to extend their latest cuts in oil production until the end of 2018. OPEC and a group of other important oil producers will meet in Vienna at the end of the month to discuss cuts they announced one year ago and implemented at the start of 2017.

Hess gained 97 cents, or 2.2 percent, to $44.42 and Chevron advanced 62 cents to $116.53.

SOMETHING TO BE THANKFUL FOR: Amazon, along with tech giants Apple, Facebook, Microsoft and Google’s parent company Alphabet, have played a huge role in the market’s gains this year. Those five companies combined are responsible for more than one-fourth of the value the S&P 500 has gained this year. Amazon and Facebook are trading at all-time highs and the other three set record highs earlier this month.

NOT SO FAST: Billionaire investor Carl Icahn disclosed that he’s acquired a 13.5 percent stake in SandRidge Energy. A week ago SandRidge agreed to buy oil and gas company Bonanza Creek Energy, and Icahn said he’s opposed to the $736 million deal. Another major SandRidge investor, Fir Tree Partners, is also against the deal. SandRidge jumped $1.53, or 8.7 percent, to $19.03 while Bonanza tumbled $3.27, or 10.2 percent, to $28.87.

CURRENCIES: The dollar rose to 111.57 yen from 111.22 yen. The euro strengthened to $1.1939 from $1.1854.

BONDS: Bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 2.34 percent from 2.32 percent late Wednesday.

CURRENCIES: The dollar fell to 111.40 yen from 111.77 yen. The euro rose to $1.1916 from $1.1822.

OVERSEAS: France’s CAC 40 rose 0.2 percent and the DAX in Germany gained 0.5 percent. Britain’s FTSE 100 slipped less than 0.1 percent. Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 index rose 0.1 percent while the Hang Seng in Hong Kong rebounded 0.5 percent and South Korea’s Kospi added 0.3 percent.

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AP Markets Writer Marley Jay can be reached at http://twitter.com/MarleyJayAP His work can be found at https://apnews.com/search/marley%20jayt

Source: Associated Press

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