Stocks Push New Record Highs By US Close

Stocks in the US closed at record highs on a shortened post-Thanksgiving session on Friday, with the Standard & Poor’s 500 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average posting a fourth straight day of gains as utilities and telecoms led the way.

By the early close at 1 p.m. ET, all of the sectors on the S&P 500 were stronger apart from a 0.4% decline in energy, which was pulled lower by a 3% loss in US oil futures after multiple news outlets reported that Saudi Arabia had opted out of attending a meeting of non-Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries oil producers on Monday.

With shoppers heading to the malls and online for Black Friday sales that kick off the festive retailing season, stocks for the sector were mixed. Wal-Mart Stores (WMT) rose 0.6% but Macy’s (M) fell 1.7% and Sears Holdings (SHLD) dropped 2.3%. Consumer discretionary stocks were up 0.3% by the close.

Consumer staples fared better, with a 0.8% increase. Coca-Cola (KO) was the second-best performer on the Dow, rising 1%. Cisco Systems (CSCO) gained 1.2% in the index’s biggest rise. Among the 30 blue chips, 24 posted gains.

In company news, Anheuser Busch Inbev (BUD) rose 1.4% after Macquarie started coverage of the company’s stock with an outperform rating. TransAlta (TAC) jumped 25% as BMO Capital increased its price target on the Calgary-based power generation firm by $1 to $7.50 and reaffirmed its market perform rating.

In economic data, the international trade deficit for the US widened to $62 billion in October from $56.5 billion a month earlier, missing analysts’ expectations for a $59.7 billion deficit, according to the Census Bureau’s advance data for the period. The November flash services PMI was 54.7, compared to 54.8 in October and missing estimates for 54.8.

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