[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/12/28/christmasshoppinghoriz.jpg caption="Retail sales have gone up slightly from last year."]
CNN Financial News Producer
Stocks on Wall Street kicked off the last week of 2009 on a positive note Monday, with the Dow, Nasdaq and S&P 500 all edging up to close at record highs for the year in an otherwise lackluster session.
It’s likely to be an unpredictable week amid light trading volume, with many market participants on vacation and traders focused on 2010.
Stocks have now risen for 6 straight sessions, including the 3-1/2 days of last week's holiday-shortened trading week. All financial markets closed early on Christmas Eve and were closed for Christmas.
The market will be closed again Friday for New Year's Day and many traders are taking the entire week off.
Giving stocks a boost today was an initial report on the holiday shopping season that showed a solid year-over-year gain, both in stores and online.
The report from MasterCard Advisors' SpendingPulse data service showed a 3.6% increase in retail sales in the period from Nov. 1 to Dec. 24. That compared with a 2.3% drop in last year's report, which was based on charges rung up on MasterCard credit cards as well as a survey of sales made by cash or check.
Michael McNamara, VP of research and analysis for SpendingPulse, said an extra shopping day this year may have helped sales, and that this year's shopping season didn't really take off until after Black Friday, making December look better.
And big, late-season snow storms in the Northeast and Midwest may have given a lift to online sales while at the same time crippling mall and department store activity.
Not getting a lift today - the airline sector. Airline stocks tumbled as a botched terror attack aboard a Northwest Airlines flight on Christmas Day shook the industry.
Shares of Northwest's parent Delta Air Lines and American Airlines' AMR Corp. ended down more than 4%, and US Airways was down nearly 7%. Continental Airlines and United Airline's UAL Corp. finished lower by more than 3% lower, and JetBlue Airways was down about 2%.
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