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Market update: Dow surges on Black Friday, breaks key resistance

In a Tuesday, July 10, 2012, file photo, traders work at the start of early trading at the New York stock Exchange. U.S. stocks slid for a sixth day Thursday, July 12, 2012, as concern spread that weaker global economic growth and the European debt crisis will hurt U.S. corporate earnings.

Bebeto Matthews/AP Photo

U.S. stocks extended gains into the 1 p.m. (ET) market close, with the Dow Jones industrial average concluding the shortened session with a 172-point rally.

The Dow's 1.3 per cent advance to above the 13,000-mark, as well as the S&P 500's equal advance in percentage terms to 1,409, brought both indexes above their 200-day moving averages. That's been a key support and resistance level in recent weeks. Their break above that level, which today stands at 12,992 for the Dow, could be seen as a bullish indicator heading into next week.

The Dow gained 3.3 per cent over the past four trading days - it was closed Thursday for Thanksgiving - marking its best weekly rise since early June. It is now down just 1.35 per cent since its close on U.S. election day, notes Bespoke Investment Group.

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The Toronto market remains open until 4 p.m. (ET); gains here were more subdued at mid-afternoon, with the main index up 58 points, or 0.4 per cent, at 12,211. The TSX had been up by almost the same amount on Thursday, however, when U.S. markets were closed.

U.S. markets opened higher at the open and extended their gains throughout today's session, with traders shrugging off late-morning news that European Union leaders failed to reach agreement on a new seven-year budget. They called off talks after less than two days, as most countries rejected deeper spending cuts demanded by Britain and its allies.

While the breakdown in the budget talks didn't rattle markets, they will be vulnerable to a selloff should a meeting of euro-area finance ministers Monday fail. They will be discussing aid to Greece, and the country's finance minister said today that the International Monetary Fund has relaxed its debt-cutting target and only a €10-billion ($13-billion) gap remains to be filled for a vital aid tranche to be paid. But others involved in the talks cautioned that the funding gap was far bigger than that suggested by Greece and that the two sides were not on the verge of striking a deal to resolve the euro zone's most intractable problem.

Meanwhile, traders found some encouragement today from an unexpected rise in German business confidence. The Ifo institute said its business climate index climbed to 101.4 this month, beating expectations for about 99.5.

The gold and precious metals sector was the lead advancer on the TSX today, as the price of bullion advanced $20.40 at $1,748.60 (U.S.). Barrick Gold Corp. is up 1.1 per cent at $35.15 on the TSX.

Research In Motion Ltd. continued to garner considerable attention. It closed up $1.40, or 13.6 per cent, at $11.66 (U.S.) on Nasdaq, a little shy of the 17 per cent rally in Toronto on Thursday when U.S. markets were closed. That means RIM's TSX-listed shares were down today, off 3.2 per cent at $11.61 (Canadian).

The Canadian dollar is about half a cent in early afternoon trading, up 0.5 per cent at 1.0082. Inflation figures this morning from Statistics Canada didn't grab a lot of attention. While inflation was a little higher than expected in October, the rate remained well below the central bank's 2 per cent target, suggesting interest rate hikes are still a long way off.

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