The stock market closed out its best month since the summer, posting big gains for November even as investors worried about the strength of the holiday shopping season.
NEW YORK (AP) — The stock market closed out its best month since the summer, posting big gains for November even as investors worried about the strength of the holiday shopping season.
Stocks fluctuated through the day Monday, but finished modestly higher as traders ultimately were not deterred by reports that retail sales were overall uninspiring during the Thanksgiving weekend. Some retail stocks fell sharply, but online merchants shot higher on reports of strong Internet sales.
Despite a tepid finish, the Dow Jones industrial average and the Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose more than 5 percent in November, their biggest monthly advance since July.
Investors might not be surprised that sales are not robust because consumer confidence has been low and unemployment is above 10 percent for the first time since the 1980s.
Preliminary figures by ShopperTrak, a research firm that tracks more than 50,000 outlets, showed that sales rose 0.5 percent on Friday, the start to the holiday shopping season. Online sales jumped 11 percent Thursday and Friday, according to comScore, an Internet research firm.
Investors have been worried that rising unemployment would make shoppers uncomfortable about spending during the holidays. Traders are already looking to the government’s November unemployment report, which is due Friday.
The National Retail Federation, a trade group, said Sunday it still expects holiday sales to slip 1 percent compared with last year.
Benny Lorenzo, CEO of the investment bank Kaufman Bros. in New York, said the retail numbers might not look as impressive because there were so many markdowns and clearance sales last year. He said investors are cautious about the results but pointed to Internet retailers as one area of strength.
“Certainly in a market like this it could’ve been a lot worse for sure,” he said. “The online vendors, they seem to have done pretty well.”
A late-day report that Dubai was working on restructuring its debt gave stocks a lift. Investors, satisfied for the moment that credit problems in the Middle Eastern city-state of Dubai would be addressed without spreading, turned their attention to consumers, whose spending is the biggest driver of the U.S. economy.
According to preliminary calculations, the Dow rose 34.92, or 0.3 percent, to 10,344.84. The broader S&P 500 index rose 4.14, or 0.4 percent, to 1,095.63, and the Nasdaq composite index rose 6.16, or 0.3 percent, to 2,144.60.
Three stocks rose for every two that fell on the New York Stock Exchange, where volume came to a moderate 1.3 billion shares.