Nov. 23 - Summary of business headlines: Stock rally boosted by Black Friday hopes; Macy's CEO says ''fiscal cliff'' not impacting consumer spending; Europe sees best weekly gain of the year. Conway G. Gittens reports.
Wall Street is feeling jolly as the key retail season gets underway. Stocks rallied for a fifth day, with major indices up 1-1/3 percent in a holiday-shortened trading session. That helped blue chips end a four-week losing streak and the Nasdaq stop six-weeks of declines. Black Friday is up and running. The unofficial start of the holiday shopping season began with long lines and crowded stores and consumers up early looking for the best deals. Seems like the hunt for a good bargain is more in focus than the fiscal cliff, contrary to some concerns. But Macy's CEO Terry Lundgren is not surprised. SOUNDBITE: TERRY LUNDGREN, CEO, MACY'S (ENGLISH) SAYING: "Businesses, before they are investing or spending capital, they are waiting to see what is the tax structure going to look like and where should they make their investments, but the consumer I think is going to still shop. They are going to take care of their kids and they are going to buy for their best friends and family for the holiday season. So I don't think it's been an issue thus far." Total holiday sales are expected to rise 4.1 percent this year, according to the National Retail Federation. Looking at blue chip consumer related stocks: Wal-Mart rallied close to two percent. Home Depot was up 1.1 percent. And credit card issuer American Express gained just under a full percent. It was more than just the American consumer putting Wall Street in buying mood. There appeared to be progress in helping Greece with its huge debt problem. And rare optimism sent U.S.-listed shares of Research in Motion higher as the company gears up for the much-delayed launch of the BlackBerry 10. As for the European trading day - stocks were up across the board, wrapping up their best weekly gain all year.