The S&P 500 broke a two-week losing streak to rise 3.6 percent. Stocks had tumbled earlier in the month on worries about the impact of tax and spending changes set to take effect from January, but hopes that politicians will reach a deal to avert the so-called fiscal cliff helped the market recoup some of those declines this week.
The Dow and S&P 500 both closed above key technical levels for the first time since Nov 6, which could provide additional support. The Dow ended above 13,000, while the S&P broke above 1,400.
The Dow rose 3.3 percent for the week, while the Nasdaq jumped 4 percent. The Nasdaq had ended lower for the previous six weeks in a row.
Volume was about 2.8 billion shares on the New York Stock Exchange, the Nasdaq and the NYSE MKT, compared with the year-to-date average daily closing volume of over 6 billion.
Advancers outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by 2,407 to 469 on the New York Stock Exchange. On the Nasdaq, advancers had the lead, with 1,775 stocks gaining and 548 shares declining.
The retail sector rose as investors looked for signs of how much consumers are spending as stores lured shoppers with Black Friday deals and discounts.
Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, kicks off the U.S. Christmas shopping season for retailers and is often the busiest shopping day of the year. The National Retail Federation expects sales during the holiday season to grow 4.1 percent this year compared with last year's 5.6 percent increase.
If the traffic and sales numbers look strong early on, it usually gives a sense that the season will be in line with expectations, said Bucky Hellwig, senior vice president at BB&T Wealth Management in Birmingham, Alabama.
The way that could work against a stronger retail season is if there's no follow-through, there could be discounting on the part of retailers.
Wal-Mart rose 1.9 percent to $70.20, while Target gained 1.2 percent to $64.48.