U.S. stocks rose for a fifth day during a holiday-shortened, thin trading session on Friday, as investors bid up large technology stocks which had fallen to more attractive levels recently.
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 the holiday shopping season got underway.
U.S. equity market trading will end early at 1:00 pm ET (1800 GMT) after closing Thursday for the Thanksgiving holiday. Trading volume was limited, with many investors still on leave.
Shares of big-cap technology companies climbed as investors took advantage of the day's upward momentum to add to positions.
"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 2.4 percent to $27.61, while Oracle rose 1.8 percent to $30.94.
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 13.8 percent at $11.68.
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 <.DJI> gained 117.37 points, or 0.91 percent, to 12,954.26. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> rose 12.60 points, or 0.91 percent, to 1,403.63. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> climbed 31.20 points, or 1.07 percent, to 2,957.75.
The S&P 500 looked set to break a two-week losing streak, having gained more than 3 percent this week so far. Stocks had tumbled earlier in the month on worries about the impact of tax and spending changes 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 index also broke back above the 1,400 level, which could provide support.
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.
Wal-Mart rose 1.2 percent to $69.70, while J C Penney gained 1.6 percent to $17.52.
(Editing by Bernadette Baum)
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