NEW YORK (AFP) - Wall Street stocks gained early Friday with most retail shares advancing as the holiday shopping season kicked off with "Black Friday" promotions.
Forecasters expect US consumers to spend about four percent more this year compared with the 2016 holiday shopping season, with solid employment levels and lofty stock equity-market valuations expected to boost overall spending.
Some early data has already suggested an uptick in online sales compared with the year-ago period, but "the question is - and will remain throughout the holiday selling season - how much of the online sales strength will come at the expense of in-store sales?" said Briefing.com analyst Patrick O'Hare.
About 15 minutes into trading, the Dow Jones Industrial Average stood at 23,558.83, up 0.1 percent. The broad-based S&P 500 added 0.2 percent at 2,601.67, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index climbed 0.2 percent to 6,878.07.
The leading indices remain at or near all-time records following a run on mostly good corporate earnings and in anticipation that lawmakers in Congress will approve President Donald Trump's tax cut.
Among retailers, Amazon rose 1.0 percent, Wal-Mart Stores 0.8 percent, Gap 1.4 percent, Best Buy 0.6 percent and Macy's 2.4 percent. Target fell 0.4 percent and Williams-Sonoma dropped 0.5 percent.