US stocks rise as market eyes key shopping season

NEW YORK (AFP) - Wall Street stocks rose modestly early Monday (Nov 20) to open a holiday-shortened week that will launch the Christmas shopping season, a pivotal stretch for retailers.

There was no pattern among leading retailers early in the trading session, with Best Buy and Macy's higher and Williams-Sonoma and Target lower.

Analysts expect good overall holiday sales due to the solid US economy, but predict some retailers will struggle to keep profit margins robust due to heavy discounting and the influence of online options.

About 20 minutes into trading, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was at 23,394.81, up 0.2 per cent.

The broad-based S&P 500 rose 0.1 per cent to 2,580.25, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index gained 0.2 per cent to 6,793.69.

Analysts were expecting lower-than-usual trading volumes due to the Thanksgiving holiday, which will shut markets on Thursday and result in a half-day of trading on Friday.

In merger news, chipmaker jumped 7.8 per cent after it agreed to be acquired by Marvell Technology Group for about US$6 billion (S$8.2 billion). The deal will lift Marvell's total potential market to more than US$12 billion.