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Stocks finish session with 5th-straight gain


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POSTED: Saturday, November 29, 2008

NEW YORK » Wall Street climbed again yesterday, wrapping up its biggest five-day rally in more than 75 years, even as investors digested signs of a bleak holiday season for retailers and fears that a flurry of reports next week will show more economic distress.

On the short trading day, investors snapped up the battered shares of blue-chip stalwarts Citigroup Inc., General Motors Corp. and Ford Motor Co., fueling a rally that has surprised many market experts whipsawed by wild swings during the past three months.

The market got big boosts over the past week from President-elect Barack Obama naming his economic team, the government propping up Citigroup, and the Federal Reserve deciding to buy massive amounts of mortgage-backed securities.

Not only did were trading volumes very light yesterday, but investors will be digesting a slew of economic data next week ranging from a reading on the manufacturing sector to the all-important employment report from the U.S. Labor Department. Both are expected to be dismal.

The stock market closed three hours early the day after Thanksgiving and locked in gains of 16.9 percent for the Dow since the rally began Nov. 21, 19.1 percent for the S&P 500; and 16.7 percent for the Nasdaq.

It was the first time the Dow rose for five consecutive sessions since July 2007, and the biggest five-day percentage gain over five sessions since Aug. 8, 1932.

Some retail stocks rose yesterday as some investors hoped the predictions have been overly dour. Macy's Inc. added 5.6 percent, though some discounters, like Wal-Mart Stores Inc., slipped.

Yesterday, the Dow rose 102.43, or 1.17 percent, to 8,829.04.

Broader stock indicators also rose. The S&P 500 index advanced 8.56, or 0.96 percent, to 896.24, while the Nasdaq composite index rose 3.47, or 0.23 percent, to 1,535.57 after spending much of the session lower.

The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies rose 4.28, or 0.91 percent, to 473.14.

Government bonds rose. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note, which moves opposite its price, tumbled to 2.92 percent from 2.99 percent late Wednesday. The yield on the three-month T-bill, considered one of the safest investments, edged up to 0.05 percent from 0.03 percent Wednesday.

The dollar mostly rose against other major currencies, while gold prices also advanced.

Light, sweet crude fell a penny to settle at $54.43 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Advancing issues outpaced decliners by more than 2 to 1 on the New York Stock Exchange, where consolidated volume came to 2.63 billion shares, down from 5.71 billion shares on Wednesday.