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US: Stocks slightly lower on shortened trading day

[WASHINGTON] Wall Street was slightly lower on Friday, a shortened trading day, as investors turn their focus to the crucial US holiday shopping season and Disney weighed on indexes.

At 9.38 am ET the Dow Jones industrial average was down 22.58 points at 17,790.81, the S&P 500 was down 0.5 points at 2,088.37 and the Nasdaq Composite was up 1.51 points at 5,117.65.

Trading was relatively quiet just after the opening bell, with volumes expected to be light as the market is scheduled to close at 1700 GMT. US markets were shut on Thursday for Thanksgiving.

Walt Disney fell 3.3 percent to US$114.80, after the media giant said late on Wednesday that its ESPN sports network lost 3 million subscribers in 2015. The stock was the biggest drag on the Dow and the S&P 500.

The shopping season spanning November and December is crucial for many retailers because the two months can account for anywhere between 20 percent and 40 percent of annual sales.

However, shoppers are expected to be cautious with their spending again this year. The National Retail Federation is expecting holiday sales to rise 3.7 per cent, slower than last year's 4.1 per cent increase.

Shoppers appeared to respond to early Black Friday discounts with a mix of enthusiasm and caution.