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VOL. 38 | NO. 49 | Friday, December 5, 2014

Retail sales report boosts US stock market

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NEW YORK (AP) — An encouraging report on U.S. consumer spending pushed stocks sharply higher Thursday. The energy sector rose after crude oil prices stabilized.

KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial average rose 214 points, or 1.2 percent, to 17,747 as of 12:09 p.m. Eastern. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 28 points, or 1.4 percent, to 2,054 and the Nasdaq composite rose 73 points, or 1.6 percent, to 4,757.

LET'S GO TO THE MALL, TODAY: U.S. retail sales perked up in November, the start of the holiday shopping season, led by online purchases and sales of autos, clothing and electronics.

Retail sales rose 0.7 percent last month, the Commerce Department said. Falling gasoline prices led to a decline 0.8 percent at gas stations, but that freed up money that could be spent elsewhere. A strong retail sales report could not have come at a more crucial time for retailers, since holiday sales often mean the difference between a company earning a profit or a loss in the year.

Consumer discretionary stocks were among the biggest gainers. The S&P 500's consumer discretionary sector rose 1.6 percent, led by companies such as Coach, Macy's, Mattel and Tiffany.

OIL STABILIZES: Investors continue to watch the price of crude oil, which was hit hard Wednesday following a report that U.S. stockpiles hit a multi-year high. Oil edged up 2 cents to $60.95 a barrel, after plunging $2.88 a barrel on Wednesday. It also fell $2.79 a barrel on Monday. The price of oil is the lowest it's been in five years.

While lower oil prices are good for consumers, many energy companies rely on high oil prices to justify drilling in remote parts of the globe for hard-to-reach reserves of crude. Energy companies also make up a big part of the U.S. stock market.

The stabilization in oil prices boosted energy stocks, particularly companies that focus on remote drilling operations. Diamond Offshore rose 5 percent, Denbury Resources was up 4 percent and oil giant Exxon Mobil rose 3 percent. Overall, the S&P 500 energy sector was up 1.9 percent, by far the best performing part of the market.

MARKETS CHECKED: Despite a relative dearth of scheduled economic news this week, markets have struggled on a combination of factors, including worries over higher U.S. interest rates, renewed concerns over Greece's economy and a sell-off in Chinese stocks. The slide in oil prices has added an element of uncertainty, despite the fact that cheaper energy costs could, if sustained, give the global economy a sizeable lift next year.

CAN I BORROW A DOLLAR? Lending Club, a peer-to-peer lending platform, rose $8.56, or 57 percent, to $23.66 on its first day of trading. Lending Club's initial public offering priced at $15 a share on Wednesday night, above the estimated range.

EUROPE AND ASIA: Germany's DAX closed up 0.6 percent, France's CAC-40 fell 0.1 percent and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 slipped 0.6 percent.

In Tokyo, the Nikkei fell 0.9 percent, Hong Kong's Hang Seng lost 0.9 percent and South Korea's Kospi slipped 1.5 percent. Shares were also lower in Taiwan, Singapore and Australia. China's Shanghai Composite Index declined 0.5 percent.

BONDS and CURRENCIES: U.S. government bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 2.21 percent. The dollar rose 1.6 percent against the yen to 119.41 yen. The euro fell 0.8 percent to $1.2384.

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RECORD TOTALS DAY WEEK YEAR
PROPERTY SALES 0 0 0
MORTGAGES 0 0 0
FORECLOSURE NOTICES 0 0 0
BUILDING PERMITS 0 0 0
BANKRUPTCIES 0 0 0
BUSINESS LICENSES 0 0 0
UTILITY CONNECTIONS 0 0 0
MARRIAGE LICENSES 0 0 0