US stock markets end little-changed

AFP, NEW YORK

Sun, Nov 29, 2015 - Page 15

US stocks ended little-changed on Friday in a shortened session a day after the Thanksgiving holiday, with retailers in focus as Black Friday sales started the important year-end shopping season.

Investors shrugged off a steep plunge in Chinese stocks, sparked after authorities opened investigations into several brokerages.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped to 17,798.49, down 14.9 points (0.08 percent), as Walt Disney Co weighed.

The broad-based S&P 500 edged up 1.24 (0.6 percent) to 2,090.11, while the tech-rich NASDAQ Composite Index advanced 11.38 (0.22 percent) to 5,127.52.

“Unsurprisingly, the Friday session was very quiet with trading volume running well below average,” Briefing.com said.

Stocks had moved little in the week’s first three days of trading. Markets were closed on Thursday for Thanksgiving Day, and closed three hours early on Friday, at 6pm GMT. No economic indicators were on the agenda.

“With nothing in the way of earnings or economic data to digest, traders will await Black Friday updates from retailers,” Alex Eppstein at Schaeffer’s Investment Research said.

The National Retail Federation is to release spending results for the Thanksgiving holiday weekend today.

Shoppers flocked to stores for Black Friday sales, the start of the year-end holiday promotions that account for a large part of retailers’ full-year earnings.

Retail giant Wal-Mart Stores Inc fell 0.6 percent on the Dow. Macy’s Inc dropped nearly 1 percent and Gap Inc tumbled 2.2 percent.

In contrast, Target Corp rose 0.4 percent reporting a strong start to its Black Friday weekend, especially a 35 percent jump in online orders for in-store pickup on Thanksgiving. Online behemoth Amazon.com fell 0.3 percent.

Disney was a big drag on the Dow, tumbling nearly 3 percent, after revealing a drop in subscribers to its sports cable television network, ESPN. The entertainment company, in a regulatory filing, said ESPN had 92 million subscribers in its just-ended fiscal year, down from 95 million a year ago.

NXP Semiconductors soared 4.6 percent after announcing it cleared the last regulatory hurdle, with China, to complete its merger with Freescale Semiconductor Inc. The Netherlands-based chipmaker had already won approval for the sale of its RP Power business to Jianguang Asset Management Co Ltd, a condition for the Freescale merger.

Nike Inc rose 0.2 percent.