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US: Stocks little changed: Disney drags on


[NEW YORK] US stocks ended little-changed Friday in a shortened session a day after the Thanksgiving holiday, with retailers in focus as Black Friday sales kicked off 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 14.90 points (0.08 per cent), as Disney weighed.

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

"Unsurprisingly, the Friday session was very quiet with trading volume running well below average," said.

Stocks had moved little in the week's first three days of trading. Markets were closed Thursday for Thanksgiving Day, and closed three hours early Friday, at 1800 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," said Alex Eppstein at Schaeffer's Investment Research.

The National Retail Federation will release spending results for the Thanksgiving holiday weekend on Sunday.

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 fell 0.6 per cent on the Dow. Macy's dropped nearly one per cent and The Gap tumbled 2.2 per cent.

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

Disney was a big drag on the Dow, tumbling nearly three per cent, 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 per cent after announcing it cleared the last regulatory hurdle, with China, to complete its merger with Freescale Semiconductor. The Netherlands-based chip maker had already won approval for the sale of its RP Power business to Jianguang Asset Management, a condition for the Freescale merger.

Nike rose 0.2 per cent. IAAF president Sebastian Coe, bowing to intense pressure, announced Thursday that he had stepped down from his paid role as an ambassador for Nike to focus more on cleaning up world track and field's beleaguered governing body.