Black Friday brightens Wall Street




NEW YORK &

Stocks rose as investors capped a capricious week by engaging in a bit of Black Friday bargain hunting while awaiting word of how retailers might fare during what is expected to be a tough holiday shopping season.




Friday's holiday-shortened session ended three hours early and followed fractious trading that on Wednesday saw the Dow Jones industrial average and the Standard Poor's 500 index give up more than 1.5 percent. The SP's climb Friday put the index back into positive territory for the year.




The day's gains weren't enough to reverse losses for the week, however, and observers cautioned the session could prove more an aberration than a reversal of recent trends. With many of Wall Street's principal players on vacation, volume was light as is typical on such days.




Consumers crowd stores on Friday




NEW YORK &

The nation's shoppers &

who have been hibernating in recent months because of worries about rising gas prices and falling home values &

jammed malls and stores for pre-dawn discounts on everything from TVs to toys on the official start of Christmas shopping.




The aggressive tactics &

bigger discounts and expanded hours like midnight openings"" apparently worked.




Based on early reports, Macy's Inc., Toys "R" Us, K-B Toys Inc. and others that were noisy with discounts reported bigger crowds for the early morning bargains than a year ago.




With the economy relying heavily on the consumer, however, it's crucial that the Black Friday euphoria lasts throughout the season, expected to be the weakest in five years.




Oil inches toward $100 per barrel




NEW YORK &

Oil futures resumed their march toward $100 a barrel Friday, rising to a new record close in light holiday trading on concerns about tight heating oil supplies while also drawing support from a buoyant stock market.




At the pump, meanwhile, gas prices retreated further from their most recent peak, falling 0.1 cent overnight to a national average of $3.086 a gallon, according to AAA and the Oil Price Information Service.




Analysts say gas prices are likely to hold steady or even slide a little unless oil rises beyond $100 a barrel.




Oil prices drew support Friday from heating oil futures, which set new records on concerns about tight supplies heading into the winter heating season.




U.S. dollar hits new low




NEW YORK &

The dollar hit a new low against the euro in thin trading Friday as speculation continued that the American credit crisis will lead to another cut in interest rates in the U.S.




The 13-nation European currency spiked early to hit $1.4966, breaking the previous record of $1.4873, set the day before.




In late afternoon trading, the euro had retreated to $1.4838, up from the $1.4833 it bought late in Europe the day before, but down from the $1.4848 it bought in New York late Wednesday.




IAC to invest $100 million in China




BEIJING &

Media mogul Barry Diller said Friday his Internet conglomerate, IAC/InterActiveCorp, will invest $100 million to expand in China by creating services designed for local users.




IAC also will launch its Ask.com search engine in China within two years, Diller told reporters in a meeting over breakfast.




IAC is looking for opportunities to develop or buy businesses geared to Chinese users, Diller said. He said it wants to avoid the fate of Internet outfits that have struggled in China with offerings developed for the United States and other foreign markets.




S. Korea to investigate Samsung




SEOUL, South Korea &

South Korea's National Assembly passed a bill Friday demanding an independent investigation into allegations of bribery at the Samsung Group conglomerate.




The bill was to go to President Roh Moo-hyun for final approval. His office has said he may veto it because state prosecutors have already launched a probe into the scandal at the country's largest industrial group, which includes Samsung Electronics Co.




The single-chamber legislature, however, can override a veto if a majority of its 299 members attend a floor vote and two-thirds of them vote in favor.




FDA wants warnings on vaccinations




WASHINGTON &

Government health regulators recommended adding label precautions about neurological problems seen in children who have taken flu drugs made by Roche and GlaxoSmithKline.




The Food and Drug Administration on Friday released its safety review of Roche's Tamiflu and Glaxo's Relenza. FDA's panel of outside experts will consider the government's proposed labeling at its meeting Tuesday. FDA is not required to follow the advice of its outside experts, though it usually does.




FDA began reviewing Tamiflu's safety in 2005 after receiving reports of children experiencing neurological problems, including hallucinations and convulsions.




"" The Associated Press