The stock market enjoyed some Black Friday cheer, rising sharply as shoppers braved the annual post-Thanksgiving rush. Major stock indexes closed one of their best weeks of the year.
Traders were encouraged by positive economic news from Germany and China, two engines of global growth. Technology stocks soared after a few weeks of selling. And early reports from retailers suggested strong consumer spending.
The rally gave the S&P 500 its biggest weekly point gain since last December – 49 points, or 3.6 percent. The Dow gained 3.4 percent and the Nasdaq almost 4 percent for the week.
Wal-Mart workers and supporters protested at a number of stores nationwide, blasting the wages, benefits and treatment of employees of the world's largest retailer.
The efforts on Thursday and Friday seemed to do little to keep shoppers away and the company said it was its best Black Friday ever.
A union-backed group called OUR Walmart says it held an estimated 1,000 protests in 46 states. Wal-Mart refuted the estimate, saying the protests involved few of its own employees.
Photo-sharing service Instagram announced Friday that Thanksgiving was its busiest day yet, with users sharing their family meals at such a rapid clip that more than 10 million photos related to Turkey Day were posted.
Pictures were uploaded at such a furious pace that Instagram surpassed 200 photos a second for a period of several hours in the middle of the day on the West Coast.
German business confidence rose unexpectedly in November after six straight declines, a closely-watched survey showed Friday, raising hopes that Europe's largest economy can continue to weather the financial crisis.
Munich's Ifo institute said its key business climate figure rose to 101.4 points in November from 100 in October. The increase in the headline index came on the back of increases in the measures about the present and the future.