Stocks struggle for gains; Disney falls 3.5%

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U.S. stocks traded mostly lower Friday, weighed by a decline in Disney stock and lower oil prices, as investors eyed preliminary Black Friday shopping results.

“It looks like retail sales got off to a good start from what I can see,” said JJ Kinahan, chief strategist at TD Ameritrade.

Target said Black Friday weekend shopping got off to a good start with “unprecedented” results on Target.com and “a strong turnout” at stores Thanksgiving Day. The stock struggled to hold gains in morning trade.

The SPDR S&P Retail ETF (XRT) traded slightly lower after closing above its 50-day moving average Wednesday.

The Dow Jones industrial average underperformed as shares of Walt Disney weighed.

Disney fell more than 3 percent after regulatory filings showed subscribers to the firm’s ESPN sports network declined more than 3 percent from the previous fiscal year.

The S&P 500 held a touch lower as the energy sector fell nearly 1 percent following a 2 percent decline in WTI crude.

The U.S. stock market will close at 1 p.m. ET. The bond market closes at 2 p.m., while gold and oil settle an hour early at 12:30 and 1:30 p.m., respectively.

No major economic or earnings news is due Friday, but next week brings the key November employment data, the last jobs report before the Federal Reserve decides on interest rates at its Dec. 15 and 16 meeting. The European Central Bank is expected to further easing at its meeting next Thursday.

Asian stocks ended lower, led by a decline in mainland Chinese stocks after news the China Securities Regulatory Commission launched investigations into local brokerages to crack down on short selling and speculation.

The Shanghai composite plunged 5.48 percent Friday, its worst day since Aug. 25 and posting its worst week since the one ended Aug. 28. The Hang Seng fell 1.87 percent for its fifth-straight day of decline and its worst week since the week ended Sept. 25.

European stocks traded slightly lower. The German DAX is on track for its seventh week of gains out of the last eight.

The major averages are on track to close mixed for the week as stocks mostly shook off continued geopolitical concerns, including the downing of a Russian jet Tuesday.

“I think the fact that we’ve had a couple of impressive weeks is keeping people from buying in and we’ve had some geopolitical situations that we haven’t had past Thanksgivings,” Kinahan said.

The week of Thanksgiving is seasonally positive for stocks. Over the last 10 years, the S&P 500 was up for six of those holiday weeks and posted an average return of 1.9 percent, according to Kensho.

“I think we shouldn’t overreact to the news and the market isn’t overreacting to the news, which is good, but there are definitely increased instabilities now as opposed to a decade ago. … ISIS has people laced throughout Europe. Those will probably come to light in the next month or two,” said Anders Corr, principal of Corr Analytics, which provides political risk analysis.

“I would react more, from a market perspective, to what is the government response,” he said.

In morning trade, the Dow Jones Industrial Average declined 18 points, or 0.11 percent, to 17,793, with Walt Disney the greatest decliner and McDonald’s leading advancers.

The S&P 500 fell about 1 point, or 0.03 percent, to 2,087, with telecommunications leading four sectors higher and energy the greatest laggard.

The Nasdaq composite gained 1 point, or 0.02 percent, to 5,117.

About three stocks declined for every two advancers on the New York Stock Exchange, with an exchange volume of 45 million and a composite volume of 124 million in the open.

High-frequency trading accounted for 49 percent of November’s daily trading volume of about 7 billion shares, according to TABB Group. During the peak levels of high-frequency trading in 2009, about 61 percent of 9.8 billion of average daily shares traded were executed by high-frequency traders.

Crude oil futures for January delivery fell 90 cents to $42.12 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Evelyn Cheng

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