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New York (AFP) – U.S. stocks on Friday opened higher in a holiday-shortened session following better eurozone economic data and positive early assessments of “Black Friday” sales by some leading retailers.

Five minutes into trade, the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 34.16 (0.21 percent) at 16,131.49.

The broad-based S&P 500 tacked on 2.77 (0.15 percent) at 1,810.00, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index advanced 16.24 (0.40 percent) to 4,060.99.

The gains followed a drop in eurozone unemployment to 12.1 percent in October from 12.2 percent in September. Inflation also rose, easing concerns about deflation somewhat.

Meanwhile, retail giants Wal-Mart Stores and Target both reported “record” openings to the critical “Black Friday” shopping weekend, which kicks off the critical holiday shopping period.

Dow member Walmart said total sales on Thanksgiving Day exceeded last year’s total of 22 million customer served.

“Our Black Friday events were bigger, better, faster, cheaper and safer than ever,” said Walmart chief executive Bill Simon. “More customers chose us, we had the prices and products they were looking for, and we’re not finished yet.”

Trading volume was expected to be light on Friday, and markets will close early.

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Steve Bannon

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

As expected, former President Donald Trump pardoned a long list of cronies during his final weeks in office, including Paul Manafort, his former 2016 campaign manager, and former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon. Andrew Weissmann, who served as a lead prosecutor for then-Special Counsel Robert Mueller's office from 2017-2019, offers a legal analysis and critique of Trump's "abuse of the pardon power" in an article for Just Security.

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