US stocks lift as auto and oil shares rise
US stocks lifted across the board Friday, pulled up by automobile and oil shares and defying gloomy retail reports, dpa reported.
Hope for more auto sales grew after the Federal Reserve late Wednesday accepted the application by General Motor's lending arm - GMAC Financial Services - to become a bank holding company.
That move will make the lender eligible for billions of dollars in government bail-out money which in turn is expected to loosen up loans for auto purchases from the badly ailing industry. GMAC financed about three-quarters of dealers' inventories and about 35 per cent of retail sales in 2007.
Exxon shares rose after oil prices surged 6.7 per cent to 37.71 dollars per barrel.
On the down side, evidence was mounting that US retailers were experiencing their worst holiday sales season in four decades as concerns over the widening recession and record-high job losses kept US shoppers away.
SpendingPulse, a MasterCard Advisors' service that has been tracking consumer spending since 2002, reported that consumers had spent 20 per cent less on on clothing, electronics and jewellery in November and December compared to the year before. The calculation was based on estimates available Friday.
The broad-based S&P 500 added 4.65 points or 0.54 per cent to 872.80. The Dow Jones Industrial Average of blue chip stocks climbed 47.07 points, or 0.56 per cent, to 8,515.55. The Nasdaq high tech index gained 5.34 points or 0.35 per cent, to 1,530.24.
The US currency dropped against the euro to 71.15 euro cents from 71.36 euro cents on Wednesday. The dollar rose to 90.67 yen from 90.43 yen on Wednesday.