• China's industrial companies turned profitable in November
  • U.S. stocks extending year end rally
  • Traders buoyed by strong holiday retail sales

U.S. stocks traded higher on Friday, extending a year-end rally on investor optimism, one day after Nasdaq crossed the 9,000 level, despite a lack of hard news developments. Traders likely remain buoyed by a strong holiday retail season and an easing of trade tensions between China and U.S.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 68.21 points to 28,689.60 while the S&P 500 climbed 4.63 points to 3,244.54 and the Nasdaq Composite Index rose 5.33 points to 9,027.72.

“News flow remains relatively quiet, but stocks are extending their melt-up price action into the final days of 2019,” Adam Crisafulli, founder of Vital Knowledge, said on Friday.

“During what has been a very, very quiet week so far this week, the stock market has continued to rally in a slow and steady manner,” Matthew Maley, chief market strategist at Miller Tabak, said in a note Friday. “Many important stock indexes breaking out...but they’re also getting overbought.”

China’s National Bureau of Statistics said on Friday that Chinese industrial companies delivered 5.4% higher profits in November on a year-over-year basis, after recording a 9.9% drop in October.

However, through the first 11 months of 2019, China's industrial firms posted a 2.1% profit decline from the same period in the prior year.

Daniel Pinto, the head of J.P. Morgan Chase’s corporate and investment bank, told CNBC about the U.S.-China trade deal: “I think any kind of deal between China and the U.S. will create momentum and then you’ll see the economy stabilizing. I don’t think 2020 will be a blow-out year in the U.S. but we’re talking about 1.5%, 1.8% growth, which is fine.”

Pinto added: “Once some form of a trade deal happens, it will take care of the front page of the newspaper. The rest of the issues, the ones that are really difficult to solve like [intellectual property], political issues, they will still be there over time. These are natural tensions between the world’s two superpowers.”

Apple (AAPL), up more than 80% year to date, is on track to deliver its best yearly performance since 2009.

The U.S. government sold a record $2.55 trillion in notes and bonds this year, a 26% jump from last year, after the Treasury Department auctioned its latest seven-year notes on Thursday. These securities had maturities ranging from two to 30 years.

Overnight in Asia, markets were mixed. Japan’s Nikkei-225 slipped 0.36% and China’s Shanghai Composite edged down 0.09% while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng jumped 1.3%.

In Europe all markets finished higher in early afternoon trading, with Britain’s FTSE-100 up 0.17%, Germany’s DAX rose 0.27% higher and France’s CAC-40 climbed 0.13%

Crude oil futures rose 0.11% at $61.75 per barrel and Brent crude gained 0.16% at $66.92. Gold futures gained 0.26%.

The euro gained 0.67% at $1.1174 while the pound sterling rose 0.72% at $1.3091.