By Sinead Carew
(Reuters) – U.S. stock indexes ended little changed in light trading on Friday, with consumer stocks falling as investors fretted over early reports on the U.S. holiday shopping season and Disney’s subscriber losses weighed on the market.
U.S. stock markets closed three hours earlier following the Thanksgiving holiday on Thursday, with many traders taking the day off.
Trading volume was modest, with 2.79 billion shares changing hands on U.S. exchanges, compared with the 7 billion average for the previous seven sessions.
“We’re going to get today over with and hit the ground running next week,” said Brian Battle, director of trading at Performance Trust Capital Partners in Chicago.
Battle expects a busy start to next week as investors prepare for a Dec. 4 non-farm payrolls report that may bring volatility ahead of a widely expected decision by the U.S. Federal Reserve to raise interest rates at its mid-December meeting.
The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI fell 14.9 points, or 0.08 percent, to 17,798.49, the SP 500 .SPX gained 1.24 points, or 0.06 percent, to 2,090.11 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC added 11.38 points, or 0.22 percent, to 5,127.53.
Seven out of 10 major SP sectors rose slightly. The energy index .SPNY fell 0.7 percent as oil prices fell. Media and retailer stocks led the consumer discretionary sector’s .SPLRCD 0.4 percent decline.
Crowds were thin at U.S. stores and shopping malls in the early hours of Black Friday and on Thanksgiving evening as shoppers responded to early holiday discounts with caution and as bad weather hurt the turnout.
The top retail percentage decliner was Urban Outfitters with a 2.7 percent drop, followed by a 2.5 percent drop for Gap Inc . Signet Jewelers , fell 1.7 percent, as did Men’s Wearhouse . DSW Inc , Tiffany Co and Best Buy Co all fell more than 1 percent.
Big retailers Wal-Mart , J.C. Penney and online retail giant Amazon.com fell less than 1 percent while the Dow Jones U.S. General Retailers index .DJUSGT fell 0.15 percent.
Thanksgiving kicks off the crucial November and December shopping season, during which retailers make between 20 percent and 40 percent of annual sales.
“We believe Thanksgiving shopping was a bust,” analysts at Suntrust Robinson Humphrey said in a research note. “Members of our team who went to the malls first had no problem finding parking or navigating stores.”
Performance Trust’s Battle, however, called Black Friday anecdotes “noise.”
“What matters most is the season as a whole and not just one day when some of that business is being done online,” he said.
Walt Disney , the biggest drag on the Dow and the SP, fell 2.9 percent after it said late on Wednesday its ESPN sports network lost 3 million subscribers in 2015.
Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by 1,829 to 1,154, for a 1.58-to-1 ratio on the upside; on the Nasdaq, 1,698 issues rose and 983 fell for a 1.73-to-1 ratio favoring advancers.
The SP 500 posted 16 new 52-week highs and 3 new lows; the Nasdaq recorded 82 new highs and 33 new lows.
(Additional reporting by Tanya Agrawal; Editing by Nick Zieminski and Bernadette Baum)
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