Business

U.S. traders jittery; markets close lower

NEW YORK — Stocks sank during Friday's shortened session as jittery traders were afraid to commit to any holdings ahead of the weekend amid lingering uncertainty surrounding Europe's debt troubles and North Korea's war threats.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 95.28, or 0.9 percent, to 11,092. The S&P 500 index was down 8.95, or 0.8 percent, to 1,189.40. The Nasdaq composite index fell 8.56, or 0.3 percent, to 2,534.56.

"Until there's final resolution of both Spain and Portugal investors will continue to be fearful," said John O'Donoghue, co-head of equities at Cowen & Co.

Consolidated volume on the New York Stock Exchange was 1.5 billion, which was just about a third of the usual volume. Trading desks were thinly staffed on the day after Thanksgiving. Falling shares outpaced rising ones by two to one on the New York Stock Exchange. U.S. stock markets closed at 1 p.m. EST Friday instead of the usual 4 p.m. Markets were closed on Thursday for the holiday.

Friday also marked the unofficial start of the holiday shopping season. Black Friday, a crucial event for retailers, was off to a strong start, according to early reports.

Many stores pushed more exclusive deals online on Thursday in a bid to rope in shoppers before Black Friday. It apparently worked. According to IBM's Coremetrics, online sales soared 33 percent on the holiday compared with Thanksgiving 2009.

Sales during the Thanksgiving weekend made up 12.3 percent of all holiday revenue last year, according to research firm ShopperTrak. Black Friday accounted for half of that.

It was the end of a rollercoaster week. Stocks fell on Tuesday after North Korea's shelling, but surged on Wednesday after a batch of economic reports buoyed hopes that the U.S. economic recovery was gaining strength. The reports showed that Americans' income rose and consumer spending climbed in October. And fewer people filed first-time claims for unemployment benefits last week.

Overall, stocks ended the week mixed. The Dow ended 112 points lower, and the Standard & Poor's 500 index lost 10. However, the technology-heavy Nasdaq composite index gained 17 points for the week.

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