In a holiday-shortened trading session, U.S. stocks showed little change on Friday, with low trading volume and investor caution as they monitored the start of the seasonal shopping season for signs of consumer resilience.
The S&P 500 closed slightly higher, while the Dow managed a modest gain. However, the Nasdaq dipped slightly due to weakness in mega-cap momentum stocks. All three major indexes recorded their fourth consecutive weekly gains.
Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Spartan Capital Securities in New York, noted the mixed macroeconomic data and the limited participation on the post-Thanksgiving trading day, saying, “But we’re seeing a market that’s on the right path of a year-end rally.”
Retailers worldwide were attempting to attract shoppers with steep “Black Friday” discounts, but consumers appeared to be cautious, looking for bargains amidst concerns about the higher cost of living.
According to a survey by the U.S. retail trade group NRF, American shoppers planned to spend an average of $875 on holiday purchases this year, representing an annual increase of about 5%.
S&P Global’s advance purchasing managers’ index (PMI) indicated steady U.S. business activity in November, but private sector employment declined for the first time in nearly 3.5 years, potentially due to the Federal Reserve’s restrictive monetary policy.
Looking ahead, the focus is on upcoming economic data, including the Commerce Department’s second estimate of third-quarter GDP and the Personal Consumption Expenditures (PCE) report, which will offer insights into the Fed’s rate-hike impact.
The timing of the U.S. central bank’s first rate cut is increasingly in question and will depend on inflation cooling down toward the Fed’s target of 2%.
In the market, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.33%, the S&P 500 gained 0.06%, and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 0.11%.
Healthcare was a leading sector, while communication services and tech closed in the red.
Notable stock movements included Nvidia, which dipped 1.9% due to a reported delay in the launch of its China-focused AI chip, and iRobot, which surged 39.1% following news of unconditional EU antitrust approval for Amazon’s acquisition of the robot vacuum maker.
Vista Outdoor also advanced 3.9% after receiving a merger offer from Czech gunmaker Colt CZ Group.
U.S.-listed shares of Chinese EV maker Xpeng jumped 6.085% after Volkswagen announced plans to develop a new platform for entry-level electric vehicles in China.
Advancing issues outpaced decliners on both the NYSE and Nasdaq. The S&P 500 saw 23 new 52-week highs, while the Nasdaq recorded 77 new highs.
Trading volume was lower than the 20-day average, with 4.97 billion shares traded on U.S. exchanges.