US Stocks Advance in Early Trading Friday

Posted August 12th, 2011 at 10:00 am (UTC-5)
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U.S. stocks advanced in early trading Friday — and European markets soared — at the end of a volatile week at exchanges throughout the world.

Asian markets ended mixed. But share prices in Britain, France and Germany all jumped near the end of trading for the week. Earlier, France, Italy, Spain and Belgium each banned the short-selling of stocks to calm market turmoil sparked by fears about huge debts accumulated by European governments. Short-selling is an attempt to profit by betting that a stock’s price will fall.

In the United States, three benchmark indexes rose Friday, with the bellwether Dow Jones Industrial Average of 30 key stocks up more more than one percent. European and U.S. stock markets also rose sharply Thursday as traders drew encouragement from a better-than-expected U.S. jobs report, and a Friday report showed U.S. consumer spending advanced in July by the biggest amount in four months.

The Dow index ended up 4 percent Thursday, after plummeting almost five percent the day before, in a week of alternating days of huge losses followed by massive gains. The S&P 500 and the NASDAQ also closed higher Thursday.

Analysts say stocks received a boost Thursday from a U.S. government report that said first-time claims for jobless benefits fell to a four-month low in the past week. Many investors interpreted that as good news for the U.S. economy, following an unprecedented downgrade of the U.S. sovereign debt rating a week ago. That downgrade triggered Monday’s sell-off, starting the week of market gyrations.