The Friday after Thanksgiving is known as Black Friday because it begins the period in which many retailers turn profitable for the year. Traders will be looking for signs about how enthusiastically Americans are spending. That could reflect the momentum of the economic recovery.
Wal-Mart rose $1.31, or 1.9 percent, to $70.20. Macy's gained 72 cents, or 1.8 percent, to $41.73.
Trading volume on Wall Street was light, with many investors away for an extended weekend after Thanksgiving. The rally's strength will be tested on Monday, as many traders return to their desks and retailers begin to release hard data about their holiday sales results, Kinahan said.
"It's great when something like this happens, but on a half-day without the major players in there, it's not so surprising," he said.
European indexes added to earlier gains after Wall Street opened and closed higher. The FTSE 100 index of leading British shares rose 0.5 percent. Germany's DAX and France's CAC-40 both added 0.9 percent.
Investors were monitoring developments in Brussels, where European Union leaders are trying to agree on a $1.25 trillion long-term spending plan for the 27-nation bloc. Markets expect that another meeting will be needed for an agreement.
Among the stocks making big moves:
— MAP Pharmaceuticals spiked after the company announced that the Food and Drug Administration will review its experimental migraine drug Levadex. The stock rose $2.60, or 20.3 percent, to $15.42.
— KIT Digital Inc., a video software and technology company, lost two-thirds of its value after the company's former chief executive accused it of blaming prior management for its financial problems. Two days earlier, KIT said it would restate its financial results because of accounting errors. The stock lost $1.33, or 64.3 percent, to 74 cents.
Among tech's big gainers:
— Research in Motion Ltd. jumped on growing optimism for an earlier-than-expected launch of its delayed BlackBerry 10 smartphone. A senior executive from the Canadian company said earlier this month that Research In Motion, or RIM, will release the latest version of its smartphone "not long after" a Jan. 30 event. One analyst saw that as an indication that the products are to be unveiled in February. U.S.-traded shares of RIM rose $1.40, or 13.7 percent, to $11.66.
— Dell rose 49 cents, or 5.4 percent, to $9.55.
— HP added 50 cents, or 4.2 percent, to $12.44.
— AMD rose 8 cents, or 4.3 percent, to $1.95.
Daniel Wagner can be reached at www.twitter.com/wagnerreports.
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