) -- Black Friday's not starting off so well. No, we're not referring to the retailers -- it's too early to tell how companies such as


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will fare on the traditional first day of the holiday shopping season -- we're talking about global stock markets.

European shares were down for a seventh straight day, U.S. futures pointed lower, and Asian stocks tacked on further losses.

U.S. stock markets close at 1 p.m. EST on Friday.

Knocking stocks Friday was German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who on Thursday dismissed calls for the European Central Bank to play a bigger role in resolving the eurozone debt crisis.

Merkel said there would be no new provision involving the ECB. There's a belief that the ECB is the only institution capable of managing the debt crisis.

Japan's Nikkei 225 index closed down slightly, and South Korea's Kospi lost 1%. The Hang Seng in Hong Kong declined 1.4%.

In China, the Shanghai Composite Index lost 0.7% to 2,380.22, its lowest closing level in a month, according to

The Associated Press


Also knocking sentiment Friday was a surge in Italian borrowing costs.

Italy sold €8 billion ($10.6 billion) of six-month Treasury bills, the maximum target, at a rate of 6.504%, the highest since August 1997, and up from 3.535% at the last auction on Oct. 26,



The yield on Italy's benchmark 10-year bond was 7.3% after the auction, up 19 basis points,



Meanwhile, Fitch downgraded Portugal's credit rating to BB+, citing high debt across all sectors, and Moody's slashed Hungary's s investment-grade rating.

Black Friday is a national event. Many stores opened at midnight -- some even opened on Thanksgiving Day -- hoping to woo shoppers with door buster deals.

Five retailers that could use a bump from Black Friday sales are


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J.C. Penney

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Best Buy

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According to deal experts, Best Buy is advertising some of the most attractive

Black Friday

door busters, specifically on televisions. The retailer is trying to dispel the notion that is has become just a "showroom for



The National Retail Federation estimated that 152 million people will shop over the Thanksgiving weekend.


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expects to take a $4 billion pretax charge in the fourth quarter to reflect breakup fees related to its planned acquisition of

T-Mobile USA


The announcement Thursday is an acknowledgment that the prospects look increasingly bleak that the $39 billion transaction passes regulatory muster.

T-Mobile is owned by

Deutsche Telekom

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-- Written by Joseph Woelfel

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Joseph Woelfel

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