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Babar the Elephant, the French fictional children's character, with the Saks Yeti, Tracy Haffner, and Colin Bohm who rang the closing bell at the New York Stock Exchange on November 23, 2012 in New York City.
The stock market enjoyed some Black Friday cheer, rising sharply as shoppers braved the annual post-Thanksgiving rush. Major stock indexes closed one of their best weeks of the year.
Traders were encouraged by positive economic news from Germany and China, two engines of global growth. Technology stocks soared after a few weeks of selling. And early reports from retailers suggested strong consumer spending.
"Foot traffic appears heavier than we've seen in recent years, there are a lot of positive statements out of the companies themselves, and momentum appears to be strong," said JJ Kinahan, chief derivatives strategist at the brokerage TD Ameritrade.
Many stores opened earlier than ever this year, Kinahan said, allowing for earlier informal reports about their performance.
Technology stocks soared, lifting the Nasdaq composite index by more than 1 percent. Dell, chipmaker AMD and Hewlett-Packard were the top three gainers in the Standard & Poor's 500. Technology rose the most among the index's 10 industry groups.