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By Yashaswini Swamynathan
REUTERS - Wall Street extended its record-setting rally on thin volumes on Black Friday, with the Dow and S&P hitting record highs, helped by gains in retailers at the start of the crucial holiday shopping season.
The stock market will close at 1:00 p.m. ET (1700 GMT).
The holiday shopping season accounts for as much as 40 percent of retailers' annual sales. But they have been struggling to pull shoppers into stores as people increasingly prefer the convenience of shopping for bargains available online all year long.
Holiday sales are expected to increase 3.6 percent this year to about $656 billion, according to the National Retail Federation, while online sales are likely to increase 7-10 percent to as much as $117 billion.
Online spending on Black Friday alone is expected to surge about 11 percent to surpass $3 billion for the first time, according to Adobe Digital Insights.
The Dow Jones U.S. retailers index was up 0.32 percent, led Wal-Mart, up 0.7 percent, and Home Depot which rose 0.5 percent. Amazon.com was flat.
However, department store chain operators Macy's and Kohl's were the top laggards on the index, falling about 0.5 percent each amid far from far from overwhelming traffic at brick-and-mortar stores.
"Black Friday has now become a hybrid between Black Friday and Cyber Monday and has extended into a whole buying weekend. So this is going to be a good test of the strength of the consumer," said Adam Sarhan, chief executive at 50 Park Investments.
At 11:25 a.m. ET the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 51.91 points, or 0.27 percent, at 19,135.09. It hit a high of 19,146.22 earlier.
The S&P 500 was up 5.39 points, or 0.24 percent, at 2,210.11, easing slightly from an all-time high of 2,210.75.
The Nasdaq Composite was up 11.19 points, or 0.21 percent, at 5,391.76.
Nine of the 11 major S&P sectors were trading higher, led by a 1.58 percent rise in utilities. The consumer staples index rose 0.8 percent, giving the biggest boost to the S&P 500.
The energy sector, fell 0.6 percent, pulled down by a 2.7 percent drop in oil prices amid uncertainty that the OPEC would arrive at a decision to cut production during a meeting next week.
Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by 1,704 to 1,037. On the Nasdaq, 1,388 issues rose and 1,147 fell.
The S&P 500 index showed 37 new 52-week highs and no new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 194 new highs and nine new lows.
(Reporting by Yashaswini Swamynathan in Bengaluru; Editing by Savio D'Souza)
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)