US STOCKS-Wall St ends higher in short session, led by techs

Leah Schnurr
Reuters Middle East

* Tech shares rise in light volume

* S&P 500 finishes its second-best week of the year

* Retailers in focus on busy Black Friday shopping day

* Greece says IMF relaxes debt-cutting target

* Indexes up: Dow 1.4 pct, S&P 1.3 pct, Nasdaq 1.4 pct

NEW YORK, Nov 23 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks rose for a fifth

day during a holiday-shortened, thinly traded session on Friday

as investors picked up recently beaten-down shares of large

technology companies.

Market participants were also encouraged by signs of

progress in talks about releasing aid to debt-saddled Greece and

piled into U.S. retail shares as Black Friday got the holiday

shopping season under way.

U.S. stock market trading ended early and was closed on

Thursday for the Thanksgiving holiday.

Volume was the lightest of the year, though the session was

abbreviated. Shares of big-cap technology companies climbed as

investors took advantage of the day's upward momentum to add to

positions, helping the S&P 500 rack up its second best week of


"Anyone that was on the sidelines waiting for a pullback

like the one we just had in some of the tech names, they're

looking for any glimpse of strong price action for 'permission'

to enter into those (stocks)," said Todd Salamone, director of

research at Schaeffer's Investment Research in Cincinnati, Ohio

Microsoft helped lift the Nasdaq, gaining 2.8

percent to $27.70, while Apple Inc rose 1.7 percent to


From mid-September to mid-November, the S&P tech sector

shed about 13 percent as the broader market also


Research in Motion surged on optimism about its

soon-to-be-launched BlackBerry 10 devices that will vie against

Apple's iPhone and Android-based smartphones. RIM was

up 13.6 percent at $11.66.

Greece said the International Monetary Fund had relaxed its

debt-cutting target for the country, suggesting lenders were

closer to a deal for a vital aid tranche to be paid. But other

sources involved in the talks cautioned the funding gap was far

bigger than Greece has suggested.

Euro zone finance ministers, the IMF and European Central

Bank (ECB) failed earlier this week to agree on how to shrivel

the country's debt to a sustainable level and will have a third

attempt at resolving the issue on Monday.

The Dow Jones industrial average gained 172.79

points, or 1.35 percent, to 13,009.68. The Standard & Poor's 500

Index rose 18.12 points, or 1.30 percent, to 1,409.15.

The Nasdaq Composite Index climbed 40.30 points, or 1.38

percent, to 2,966.85.

The S&P 500 broke a two-week losing streak to rise 3.6

percent. Stocks had tumbled earlier in the month on worries

about the impact of tax and spending changes set to take effect

from January, but hopes that politicians will reach a deal to

avert the so-called fiscal cliff helped the market recoup some

of those declines this week.

The Dow and S&P 500 both closed above key technical levels

for the first time since Nov 6, which could provide additional

support. The Dow ended above 13,000, while the S&P broke above


The Dow rose 3.3 percent for the week, while the Nasdaq

jumped 4 percent. The Nasdaq had ended lower for the previous

six weeks in a row.

Volume was about 2.8 billion shares on the New York Stock

Exchange, the Nasdaq and the NYSE MKT, compared with the

year-to-date average daily closing volume of over 6 billion.

Advancers outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by 2,407 to 469

on the New York Stock Exchange. On the Nasdaq, advancers had the

lead, with 1,775 stocks gaining and 548 shares declining.

The retail sector rose as investors looked for signs of how

much consumers are spending as stores lured shoppers with Black

Friday deals and discounts.

Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, kicks off the U.S.

Christmas shopping season for retailers and is often the busiest

shopping day of the year. The National Retail Federation expects

sales during the holiday season to grow 4.1 percent this year

compared with last year's 5.6 percent increase.

If the traffic and sales numbers look strong early on, "it

usually gives a sense that the season will be in line with

expectations," said Bucky Hellwig, senior vice president at BB&T

Wealth Management in Birmingham, Alabama.

"The way that could work against a stronger retail season is

if there's no follow-through, there could be discounting on the

part of retailers."

Wal-Mart rose 1.9 percent to $70.20, while Target

gained 1.2 percent to $64.48.

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