Updated from 1:06 p.m. ESTStocks ended virtually unchanged in Friday's abbreviated session, supported by an overnight recovery in the dollar and early optimism about the holiday shopping season. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed up 1.92 points, or 0.02%, to 10,522.23; the S&P 500 rose 0.89 point, or 0.08%, to 1182.65; and the Nasdaq Composite slipped 0.57 point, or 0.03% to 2101.97. Volume was light even when adjusted for the 1 p.m. EST close, with about 502 million shares trading on the NYSE and 664 million changing hands on the Nasdaq. The 10-year Treasury note ended its own shortened session down 11/32 in price to yield 4.23% following a report in Beijing that China planned to lighten its ownership of U.S. government debt. The story that was later denied. The dollar was flat vs. the yen and euro after swooning earlier against both currencies for a fourth straight session. A euro cost more than $1.33 for the first time ever at one point, reflecting jitters about China's foreign debt plans. That's up from $1.20 as recently as October. Oil rose, possibly reflecting the weak dollar. The January crude contract was up 50 cents to $49.44 in electronic trading. Friday was the traditional start of the Christmas shopping season in the U.S., with chain stores vying for pieces of consumer spending that is expected to rise as much as 5% from last year. More department stores remained open on Thanksgiving Day this year, including Kmart ( KMRT), which is in the process of acquiring Sears ( S). Kmart rose $2.12, or 2%, to $107.39. About 1,500 Wal-Mart ( WMT) superstores were also open yesterday, while Target ( TGT) and Kohl's ( KSS) both launched major advertising blitzes to mark the holiday. "The focus for most of us that are in today is just looking ahead at retail sales," said Larry Peruzzi, an equity trader with Boston Company Asset Management. "The bulk of the holiday shopping is this one day. We're looking for some sort of indication, gauging the parking-lot factor, seeing if it will be a profitable one. Early indications seem pretty good, but
Richard Hastings, a retail analyst at Bernard Sands, wrote in a note, "The key idea this holiday season is buy as much as possible before China floats its currency, or before U.S. long-term rates rise high enough to raise more foreign capital and ruin your home equity credit rates." Away from retail, Oracle ( ORCL) named four candidates for the PeopleSoft ( PSFT) board in the first salvo of a potential proxy battle for the business-software maker. Oracle, which is trying to overcome management opposition to its $9 billion takeover offer, also won a minor legal victory when a Delaware judge ordered PeopleSoft executives to testify next month about the circumstances of their rejection. Oracle was down 13 cents, or 1%, to $12.66. Meanwhile, PeopleSoft was up 1 cent, or 0.1%, to $23.54. The Semiconductor Industry Association said October chip sales rose 1.5% from September to $18.8 billion and forecast flat sequential growth in the fourth quarter. The trade group said higher energy prices are likely to pressure consumer discretionary spending. The Philadelphia Semiconductor Index was fell 0.6%, while Intel ( INTC) lost 40 cents, or 1.7%, to $23.21. Taser ( TASR) slid after The New York Times reported that a laboratory that conducted research for Taser's stun guns has disagreed with the company's claims that the guns were safe. The company later called the story inaccurate and incomplete. Taser fell $3.51, or 7%, to $47.00. Overseas markets were higher, with London's FTSE 100 down 0.2% to 4745 and Germany's Xetra DAX falling 0.2% to 4154. In Asia, Japan's Nikkei fell 0.6% overnight to 10,834, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng lost 0.2% to 13,895.