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Updated from 8:55 a.m. EST

Stocks on Wall Street were trading around the baseline as an abbreviated trading session got underway Friday.

Traders were closely eyeing the retailers as shoppers flocked to stores to kick off the winter shopping season. In an annual ritual known as "

Black Friday

," stores attempt to lure customers, many of whom have the day off for Thanksgiving weekend, into their stores with preliminary holiday sales.


Dow Jones Industrial Average

was down 44 points at 8682, and the

S&P 500

was losing 4.6 points at 883. The


gave back 13 points to 1519.

On Wednesday, the three major indices rallied in the face of numerous discouraging economic reports. During that session, President-elect Barack Obama named to his economic team former

Federal Reserve

Chairman Paul Volcker. The upside finish marked the fourth straight day of gains for the Dow and the S&P 500.

U.S. markets were closed on Thursday for the Thanksgiving holiday.

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Ahead of Friday's session, the

Royal Bank of Scotland

(RBS) - Get Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc Report

said the British government would take a 58% stake in the bank following tepid reception of a stock offering by the company.


General Motors

(GM) - Get General Motors Company Report

has hired a real estate company to help it raise up to $257 million in sales and other deals related to its European offices and assets, according to a report by the

Financial Times


On the pharmaceutical front, antitrust investigators from the European Union said that


(PFE) - Get Pfizer Inc. Report



(GSK) - Get GSK plc American Depositary Shares (Each representing two) Report



(SNY) - Get Sanofi Report

blocked generic drugs from the market, costing European patients as much as $3.87 billion.

Elsewhere among pharma firms,


(AZN) - Get AstraZeneca PLC Report

faces delays for its infant lung drug Motavizumab thanks to inquiries by the Food and Drug Administration.

Eli Lilly

(LLY) - Get Eli Lilly and Company Report

, meanwhile, said it has withdrawn a new-drug application with the FDA for its pain medication Cymbalta.

Although the day was light on domestic economic data, there were additional signs of trouble abroad Friday. The European Union's statistics office said that inflation in the Eurozone for November came in at 2.1%, down from 3.2% in October. The EU also said that unemployment in the region had reached 7. 7% in October, a 0.1% increase from September.

As for analyst actions, online auctioneer


(EBAY) - Get eBay Inc. Report

caught an Argus downgrade to hold from buy.

Looking at commodities, crude oil was shedding $1.35 to $53.09 a barrel. Gold was gaining $2.10 to $813.40 an ounce.

Longer-dated U.S. Treasury securities were mixed. The 10-year note was flat in price to yield 2.98%, and the 30-year was down 2/32, yielding 3.52%. The dollar was gaining on the euro, yen and pound.

Overseas, European exchanges such as the FTSE in London and the DAX in Frankfurt were trading lower. In

Asian markets

, Japan's Nikkei and Hong Kong's Hang Seng finished with gains.