The stock market enjoyed some Black Friday cheer, rising sharply as shoppers braved the annual post-Thanksgiving rush. Major indexes were on track for their biggest weekly gains since early June.
Traders were encouraged by positive economic news from Germany and China, two engines of global growth. Technology stocks soared after a few weeks of selling. And early reports from retailers suggested that consumers may be ready to spend -- a sign of the economy's progress.
"Foot traffic appears heavier than we've seen in recent years, there are a lot of positive statements out of the companies themselves, and momentum appears to be strong," said JJ Kinahan, chief derivatives strategist at the brokerage TD Ameritrade.
Many stores opened earlier than ever this year, Kinahan said, allowing for earlier informal reports about their performance.
Technology stocks soared, lifting the Nasdaq composite index by more than 1 percent. Computer maker Dell, chipmaker AMD and computing giant Hewlett-Packard were the top three gainers in the Standard & Poor's 500 index. Technology rose the most among the index's 10 industry groups.
The stocks were bouncing back after confidence in tech stocks declined broadly, Kinahan said. AMD dropped sharply in recent weeks as investors fretted about its solvency. HP plunged 12 percent on Tuesday after exec-