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The benchmark S&P 500 and the Nasdaq Composite hit records on Friday, a day after the Thanksgiving holiday, climbing with commodity prices and with retail stocks on signs of a strong start to the holiday shopping season. 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 per cent of their annual sales during the holiday shopping season. By Thanksgiving evening, US shoppers had splurged more than $1.52 billion online, a 16.8 per cent jump over the same period last year, according to Adobe Analytics. Shares of Macy's were up 3.6 per cent. Chief Executive Jeff Gennette told CNBC the department store operator was better off this year than last and is seeing very robust online demand. Kohl's, Gap and J. C. Penney were up between 1.9 per cent and 2.2 per cent, while Wal-Mart and Target gained about 0.5 per cent. Their biggest rival, Amazon, was up 0.6 per cent, while electronics retailer Best Buy was up 0.9 per cent. "Retail spending and online shopping news is looking good, spurring hopes for strong retail sales," said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at First Standard Financial. At 9:36 a.m.
ET (1336 GMT), the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 46.27 points, or 0.2 per cent, at 23,572.45.The S&P was up 5.29 points, or 0.20 per cent, at 2,602.37 and the Nasdaq was up 9.70 points, or 0.14 per cent, at 6,877.06. While Black Friday is typically the busiest day of the year for US retailers, the stock market is likely to be relatively quiet, with an early close at 1:00 p.m. ET (1700 GMT). Ten of the 11 major S&P sectors were higher. The materials index's 0.49 per cent rise led the advancers, followed by the energy index, as commodities prices rose. US 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. Copper climbed above $7,000 towards a one-month high, helped by a weaker dollar and shrinking supplies. "Today's abbreviated session is poised to move higher as focus on shopping and climbing oil prices are the key market movers of the day." Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by 1,794 to 651. On the Nasdaq, 1,382 issues rose and 894 fell. The S&P 500 index showed 18 new 52-week highs and one new low, while the Nasdaq recorded 41 new highs and four new lows.