(Reuters) — U.S. stock indexes ended little changed in light trading Friday, with consumer stocks falling as investors fretted over early reports on the U.S. holiday shopping season and Walt Disney Co.’s subscriber losses weighing on the market. U.S. stock markets closed three hours earlier after the Thanksgiving holiday Thursday, with many traders taking the day off.
Trading volume was modest, with 2.79 billion shares changing hands on U.S. exchanges, compared with the 7 billion average for the previous seven sessions.
"We're going to get today over with and hit the ground running next week," said Brian Battle, director of trading at Performance Trust Capital Partners in Chicago. Battle expects a busy start to next week as investors prepare for a Dec. 4 nonfarm payrolls report that may bring volatility ahead of a widely expected decision by the U.S. Federal Reserve to raise interest rates at its mid-December meeting.
The Dow Jones industrial average fell 14.9 points, or 0.08 percent, to 17,798.49; the S&P 500 index gained 1.24 points, or 0.06 percent, to 2,090.11; and the Nasdaq Composite index added 11.38 points, or 0.22 percent, to 5,127.53.
Seven out of 10 major S&P sectors rose slightly. The energy index dipped 0.7 percent as oil prices dropped. Media and retailer stocks led the consumer-discretionary sector's 0.4 percent decline.
Crowds were thin at U.S. stores and shopping malls in the early hours of Black Friday and Thanksgiving evening as shoppers responded to early holiday discounts with caution and as bad weather hurt the turnout.
The top retail percentage decliner was Urban Outfitters Inc. with a 2.7 percent drop, followed by a 2.5 percent drop for Gap Inc. Signet Jewelers fell 1.7 percent, as did Men's Wearhouse. DSW Inc., Tiffany & Co. and Best Buy Co. all fell more than 1 percent.
Big retailers Wal-Mart Stores Inc., J.C. Penney Co. Inc. and Amazon.com Inc. fell less than 1 percent, while the Dow Jones U.S. General Retailers index fell 0.15 percent.
Thanksgiving kicks off the crucial November and December shopping season, during which retailers make between 20 percent and 40 percent of annual sales.
"We believe Thanksgiving shopping was a bust," analysts at Suntrust Robinson Humphrey said in a research note. "Members of our team who went to the malls first had no problem finding parking or navigating stores."
However, Performance Trust's Battle called Black Friday anecdotes "noise. … What matters most is the season as a whole and not just one day when some of that business is being done online.”
Disney, the biggest drag on the Dow and the S&P, fell 2.9 percent after it said late Wednesday its ESPN sports network lost 3 million subscribers in 2015.
Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by 1,829 to 1,154, for a 1.58-to-1 ratio on the upside; on the Nasdaq, 1,698 issues rose and 983 fell for a 1.73-to-1 ratio favoring advancers.
The S&P 500 posted 16 new 52-week highs and three new lows; the Nasdaq recorded 82 new highs and 33 new lows.
(Reporting by Sinead Carew; Additional reporting by Tanya Agrawal; Editing by Nick Zieminski and Bernadette Baum)