Better-than-expected consumer confidence numbers and a drop in oil prices sent stocks higher Wednesday, extending Wall Street's November rally in light pre-holiday trading.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 44.66, or 0.41 percent, to 10,916.09.

Broader stock indicators also rose. The Standard & Poor's 500-stock index added 4.38, or 0.35 percent, to 1265.61, and the Nasdaq composite index gained 6.42, or 0.28 percent, to 2259.98.

Oil prices dropped after the Energy Department reported substantial increases in the nation's fuel stockpiles.

Not all the economic news was good. A larger-than-expected increase in first-time jobless claims, which rose by 30,000 to 335,000 last week, had investors concerned that the labor market was still struggling to recover from disruptions caused by the Gulf Coast hurricanes.

The day's trading was unlikely to be significant to the overall market in the coming weeks, as most investors were already in vacation mode. Markets will be closed Thursday and trade in a shortened session Friday.


Sovereign Bancorp fell 49 cents, to $22.17, after restructuring its $2.4 billion deal with Banco Santander Central Hispano to sell a stake to the Spanish banking firm. Banco Santander's American depositary receipts added 7 cents, to $12.91.

Hormel Food's fourth-quarter earnings rose 17 percent due to a strong turkey market and improved production. But the maker of Spam said the outlook for the second half of 2006 is unclear and Merrill Lynch cut its rating on the company, saying it will be difficult for next year's results to beat 2005. Hormel fell $2.28, to $32.74.

Research In Motion, maker of the BlackBerry mobile e-mail device, tumbled 80 cents, to $66.28, after it cut its third- and fourth-quarter subscriber forecasts due to delayed product launches. The company reaffirmed its third-quarter profit forecasts, however.

Procter & Gamble fell 13 cents, to $57.01, after it disclosed that third-quarter earnings fell at two business units it acquired from Gillette.


New York Stock Exchange composite index rose 27.99, to 7743.34.

American Stock Exchange index fell 1.00, to 1725.92.

Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks rose 0.59, to 683.14.


NYSE: 1.97 billion shares, down from 2.28 billion on Tuesday. Advancers outnumbered decliners 3 to 2.

Nasdaq: 1.6 billion shares, down from 1.89 billion. Advancers outnumbered decliners 9 to 8.


Crude oil for January delivery: $58.71, down 13 cents.

Gold for current delivery: $492.10 a troy ounce, down from $492.60 on Tuesday.