We're mere hours away from stuffing our faces with turkey, cranberries, and all sorts of other holiday goodies. But before we do, there are a few precious minutes of trading before the holidays begin and we turn our focus to Black Friday.
Markets turned generally higher in early trading after a couple of positive economic reports. The Conference Board said that its leading economic index rose 0.2% in October, indicating modest economic expansion in early 2013. Initial jobless claims also dropped 41,000 to a seasonally adjusted level of 410,000. This was slightly lower than expected but still elevated due to Hurricane Sandy.
Near 12:30 p.m. EST, a cease-fire was announced in the Israel and Gaza, where rockets have been flying back and forth. That fueled the rally, and now markets are solidly higher. As of 3:20 p.m. EST, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) is up 0.34%, while the S&P 500 (SNPINDEX:^GSPC) is up 0.2%.
The big "winner" of the day is Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ), which has jumped 3.25% after a disastrous day yesterday. I wouldn't read too much into the jump today, because it looks more like a dead-cat bounce than anything. The company still has a lot of challenges ahead.
Consumer stocks were mixed ahead of the all-important shopping weekend. Wal-Mart's (NYSE:WMT) shares fell 0.1%, Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) rose 0.2%, and Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) was up 0.9%. These are three stocks to watch on Friday, when we'll start to get a feel for how enthusiastic shoppers are about the holidays.
The one commodity that is down because of the cease-fire is oil. The black gold has fallen 0.1% after yesterday's big drop amid hopes that an agreement between the battling Middle Eastern states would be reached. All things considered, the drop in oil isn't a bad thing.
Fool contributor Travis Hoium has no positions in the stocks mentioned above. You can follow Travis on Twitter at @FlushDrawFool, check out his personal stock holdings or follow his CAPS picks at TMFFlushDraw.
The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple and Amazon.com. Motley Fool newsletter services recommend Apple and Amazon.com. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.