NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Major U.S. markets closed lower Friday amid Black Friday sales, as trading resumed for an abbreviated session following the Thanksgiving holiday. Stock markets close at 1pm New York time today and the bond market closes at 2 p.m.

  • The S&P 500 rose for most of the day but closed down 0.08% to 1,805.75


"The U.S. consumer is more confident while natural gas and crude prices are rising, helping energy companies today," Paul Mangus, head of equity research and strategy for Wells Fargo Private Bank said in a phone-interview. Magnus said discount retailers and high-end brands were likely to do well while large department stores may be challenged. This reflects slowing level of employment gains and the equity wealth-effect enjoyed by wealthy consumers, he added.
  • Retail stocks were mixed with Apple (AAPL) up 1.9% to $556.60 while Best Buy  (BBY) was up 2.27% to $40.51. Wal-Mart  (WMT) and J.C. Penney (JCP) edged higher while Macy's (M) and Target  (TGT) were slightly lower.
  • eBay was a top gainer in the S&P 500, up 2.57% to $50.57
  • European markets were mostly lower despite unemployment across the region edging lower to 12.1% from a record 12.2%. Europe's consumer prices rose 0.9% this month from a year ago against expectations for a 0.8% increase.
  • Standard & Poor's lifted Spain's debt outlook to stable from negative and affirmed its BBB rating. The agency cut the Netherlands to AA+ from AAA, pointing to weaker growth prospects.
  • Gold is on track for its biggest monthly drop in five months as investors dump it for equities. The yellow metal has already shed 6% of its value this month, heading for its first annual fall in 13 years. 
Overseas markets were mixed. 
  • The Nikkei 225 in Japan fell 0.41% to 15,661.87, falling from a six-year high on a raft of profit-taking
  • The Hong Kong Hang Seng increased 0.39% to its highest close since April 27, 2011 at 23,881.29, lifted by the anticipation of sweeping policy reforms in China
  • Germany's DAX was rising 0.19% while the FTSE was off 0.06%. 

-- Written by Jane Searle 

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