Stocks Finish Mixed
The major stock indexes ended mixed Friday after a shortened day of light-volume trading following the Thanksgiving holiday.
The Dow Jones industrial average finished higher by 1.92 points, or 0.02%, to 10,522.23. The broader Standard & Poor's 500 index ended up 0.89 point, or 0.08%, to 1,182.65. The Nasdaq composite index lost 0.57 point, or 0.03%, to 2,101.97.
The energy markets were closed Friday. Crude oil ended Wednesday's session around $49 per barrel.
Looking ahead, next week's economic calendar is packed with key releases that should set the tone for the rest of the year. Along with next Friday's employment report, the agenda includes revised third-quarter gross domestic product, ISM manufacturing activity, ISM services report, consumer confidence, personal income and consumption, and the Federal Reserve's Beige Book. Action Economics says the reports should show solid growth and support forecasts for further Fed rate hikes in December.
In company news, upscale retailer Saks(SKS ) was a big winner in the retail group on Black Friday -- the biggest shopping day of the year. The stock surged more than 5%.
Trading among other retailers was mixed: Wal-Mart (WMT ), Circuit City (CC ) were among those moving lower while others such Sears (S ) , J.C. Penney (JCP ) all posted gains.
The steel industry enjoyed an uptick Friday as investors took note of Nissan's comment that it's temporarily shutting down the bulk of its production capacity in Japan because it can't get enough steel to keep pace with demand for its models.
Pharmacy-benefits outfit Medco Health (MHS ) recently reopened an internal inquiry that centers on the U.S. Justice Dept.'s allegations that the company's pharmacists canceled prescriptions sent to mail-order to show it filling prescriptions faster than it was, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Chip companies got a boost after the Semiconductor Industry Association's latest sales report, which showed a 22% rise in October sales. Intel (INTC ) nonetheless fell Friday, while Advanced Micro Devices (AMD ) was up.
Oracle (ORCL ) said it will nominate four people to the board of PeopleSoft (PSFT ) as part of its bid to acquire the rival software company. Shares of Oracle fell, while PeopleSoft edged slightly higher.
Taser (TASR ) shares fell 7% on Friday after a New York Times article said the company's stun guns may not be as safe as a recent federal study has claimed. The stock ended lower.
Treasury prices fell slightly on speculation that the U.S. dollar's record drop might prompt foreign central banks to cut their investments in U.S. securities. The yield on the benchmark 10-year note rose 5 basis points to 4.24%.
The dollar rebounded from a steep slide earlier Friday, and a low of $1.33 vs. the euro overnight, as the Chinese Central Bank denied any knowledge of changes to the country's currency reserves. A report in China Business News that China had cut its U.S. Treasury security holdings sent the dollar to a record low against the euro in early hours.
Major European indexes ended modestly in the red Friday.
The Financial Times-Stock Exchange 100 index in London finished down 11.9 points, or 0.25%, to 4,741.5 on the back of a weaker dollar. Jardine Lloyd Thompson plunged 18% after announcing its chief executive, Steve McGill, has quit.
Germany's DAX index lost 6.08 points, or 0.15%, to 4,154.27 in quiet Friday trade with only limited corporate news flow available to stimulate much in the way of retail business. The dollar's continued slide against most currencies hurts German stocks which rely on profits in the U.S. DaimlerChrysler was down slightly.
In Paris, the CAC 40 index ended down 15.39 points, or 0.41%, at 3,782.2 as dollar weakness weighed on sentiment. Sanofi, down 1.4%, was the biggest drag on the index although it is less exposed than peers Roche and GSK to the falling dollar.
Asian markets closed solidly lower on Friday. Japan's Nikkei 225 index fell 66.59 points, or 0.61%, to 10,833.75. In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index dropped 31.58 points, or 0.23%, to 13,895.03.
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