(MENAFN - ProactiveInvestors - Australia) U.S. equity markets closed higher buoyed by encouraging economic data as American consumers headed to stores to take advantage of Black Friday sales.
As at 1pm EDT, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 1.35% at 13,009.68, the S&P 500 was 1.30% at 1,409.15 and the NASDAQ was up 1.38% at 2,966.85.
Wednesday, U.S. markets ended in the green with the Dow up 0.38%, the S&P 500 ended 0.23% higher and the NASDAQ closed up 0.34%. Markets were closed for Thanksgiving on Thursday.
In Asia, the HSBC purchasing-managers index showed that China's manufacturing sector expanded in November for the first time in 13 months, indicating that growth will pick up in the fourth quarter.
Germany's Ifo index of business sentiment beat expectations with a November rise to 101.4 against forecasts that called for a drop to 99.5, according to media reports.
Black Friday is the traditional start to the shopping season, putting the focus squarely on retailers as many consumers were expected to take part in the biggest shopping day of the year.
Leading retailers such as Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT) and Target (NYSE:TGT) opened at 8 pm on Thanksgiving night with big crowds were reported at the stores.
According to reports, about 11,000 shoppers were in lines outside of Macy's (NYSE:M) flagship store in New York City's Herald Square when it opened at midnight on Black Friday. Gap (NYSE:GPS) opened more than 1,100 of its U.S. stores across its Gap, Old Navy and Banana Republic outlets on Thanksgiving, up from nearly 1,000 locations in 2011.
Research In Motion (NASDAQ:RIMM)(TSE:RIM) stock surged as high as 18 per cent in early NASDAQ trading Friday on rising optimism over the BlackBerry maker's newest smartphones.
Thursday, Kris Thompson, a National Bank Financial analyst, suggested investors pick up RIM stock ahead of the launch of the new BlackBerry 10 in the new year.
No economic reports are due for release Friday.
On the NYMEX, crude for January delivery rose 61 cents to 87.98 a barrel while gold futures for December delivery climbed 20.30 to 1,748.60 an ounce.
European markets finished higher with the DAX up 0.89%, the CAC 40 was up 0.87% and the FTSE 100 closed up 0.49%.