NEW YORK (Reuters) - Global stocks and the euro climbed on Friday on signs of progress in talks about releasing aid to Greece and an influential German survey that found business sentiment had improved in Europe’s largest economy.
The three major U.S. stock indexes rose about 1 percent, buoyed by bellwether technology stocks such as Intel (INTC.O) and Microsoft (MSFT.O) - each up more than 2 percent. An index of semiconductor stocks .SOX gained 2.1 percent, while the S&P information technology sector index .GSPT rose 1.3UK percent.
Friday marked the start of the holiday shopping season and gave investors a reason to scoop up retailers’ shares on hopes that consumers will go out en masse to spend.
Regular U.S. stock trading session will end early on Friday at 1 p.m. (1800 GMT). The stock market was closed on Thursday for the Thanksgiving holiday. With many investors away on holiday, volume was low. About 1.2 billion shares have traded so far on the New York Stock Exchange, the Nasdaq and the NYSE MKT, compared with the daily average for the year to date of 6.5 billion.
The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI was up 117.64 points, or 0.92 percent, at 12,954.53. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index .SPX was up 12.61 points, or 0.91 percent, at 1,403.64. The Nasdaq Composite Index .IXIC was up 31.30 points, or 1.07 percent, at 2,957.86.
The euro rose as high as $1.2943 on Reuters data, breaking above resistance at $1.2910, its 55-day moving average. It was last trading at $1.2941, up 0.5 percent on the day.
Against the yen, the euro also hit a seven-month high of 106.73 yen and was last at 106.65 yen, up 0.4 percent.
MSCI’s world equity index .MIWD00000PUS was up 0.9 percent on Friday at 329.12 points. It was on track to its best weekly performance since mid-September.
Earlier, MSCI’s broadest index of Asia Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS rose 0.7 percent for a weekly gain of 2.6 percent, also its best week for two months.
Optimism about a deal to help Greece, hopes that United States lawmakers can agree on a solution to avoid a fiscal crisis, and data showing an improving global economic outlook have driven a rally in riskier asset markets this week.
Greece said the International Monetary Fund had relaxed its debt-cutting target for the country, suggesting lenders were closer to a deal for a vital aid tranche to be paid. But other sources involved in the talks cautioned that the funding gap was far bigger than Greece has suggested.
Euro-zone finance ministers, the IMF and the European Central Bank (ECB) failed earlier this week to agree on how to get the country’s debt down to a sustainable level. They will make a third attempt at resolving the issue on Monday.
“Anything positive out of Europe related to the sovereign debt ... that can act as a catalyst,” said Todd Salamone, director of research at Schaeffer’s Investment Research in Cincinnati.
The S&P 500 looked likely to break a two-week losing streak, having gained more than 3 percent this week so far. Stocks had tumbled earlier in the month on worries about the impact of mandatory tax and spending changes to take effect in early January, but hopes that politicians will reach a deal to avoid the “fiscal cliff” helped the market recoup some of those losses this week.
The benchmark S&P 500 also climbed back above the 1,400 level, which could provide support.
Gold rose nearly 1 percent to its highest level in more than a month, buoyed by U.S. equities’ gain and technical buying as the metal breached its 50-day moving average.
Spot gold was up 0.9 percent at $1,743.86 an ounce by 10:22 a.m. EST (1522 GMT), after it hit $1,747 - which marked the loftiest price since October 18.
Oil rose above $111 a barrel on Friday as better-than-expected German business sentiment data helped ease worries about demand in the euro-zone economies, boosting the euro against the dollar, while fresh protests broke out in Egypt.
Brent crude futures were up 80 cents at $111.38 a barrel at 1526 GMT. U.S. crude was up 94 cents at $88.32. The U.S. market, which was closed on Thursday for the Thanksgiving holiday, will not issue a formal settlement price until later Friday.
On Thursday, Israel began withdrawing its army, which had been poised to invade the Gaza Strip in pursuit of militants firing rockets into Israel.
“Oil prices will probably be under pressure as long as the ceasefire holds,” said Filip Petersson, a commodity strategist at SEB Commodity Research.
Additional reporting by Leah Schnurr; Editing by Jan Paschal