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Stocks wobble to a mixed close; indexes keep weekly gains

Traders work on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange
Stocks wavered Friday in uncertain trading on Wall Street, but major indexes are on track to notch weekly gains.
(Seth Wenig / Associated Press)
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Stocks wobbled to a mixed close on Wall Street on Friday, but every major index notched weekly gains in a holiday-shortened week.

Investors faced a relatively quiet day, though concerns about inflation, high interest rates and a potential recession still hover over Wall Street. Markets were closed on Thursday for the Thanksgiving holiday and closed at 1 p.m. Eastern time on Friday.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 fell 1.14 points, or less than 0.1%, to 4,026.12. Nearly 70% of stocks in the benchmark index gained ground, but the broader market was dragged lower by technology companies whose high valuations tend to give them more heft in pushing the market higher or lower.

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The Dow Jones industrial average rose 152.97 points, or 0.4%, to 34,347.03. The Nasdaq fell 58.96 points, or 0.5%, to 11,226.36.

U.S. crude oil prices fell and weighed down energy stocks.

Black Friday crowds were bigger this year. But overall holiday sales could be muted as inflation squeezes most consumers. Meanwhile, well-off shoppers are spending freely.

Airlines and other travel-related companies gained ground as the holiday travel season kicks in. United Airlines rose 1.7%.

Retailers were mixed as shoppers headed to stores for Black Friday. Home Depot rose 1.5% and Best Buy fell 1.4%.

Long-term bond yields were relatively stable but still hovered around multi-decade highs. The yield on the 10-year Treasury, which influences mortgage rates, rose to 3.70% from 3.69% late Wednesday.

The biggest concern for investors has been whether the Federal Reserve can tame the hottest inflation in decades by raising interest rates without going too far and causing a recession.

The central bank’s benchmark rate currently stands at 3.75% to 4%, up from close to zero in March. It has warned it may have to ultimately raise rates to previously unanticipated levels to rein in high prices on food, clothing and most other goods.

Shoppers seeking big deals — and relief from soaring inflation — may be disappointed as many items end up costing more than last year even after discounts.

Minutes from the Fed’s latest policy meeting, released on Wednesday, show that officials agreed that smaller rate hikes probably would be appropriate “soon.” That was welcomed by investors who are worried that a continuation of aggressive rate hikes could slow the already weak economy too much.

Investors also have their eyes on China’s lockdowns and restrictions to curb the spread of coronavirus infections, as the direction China takes will affect the rest of Asia and global supply chains.

China has been expanding pandemic lockdowns, including in a city where factory workers making Apple’s iPhone clashed with police this week, as the number of COVID-19 cases hit a daily record there.

Wall Street will get several big economic updates next week. The Conference Board business group will release its November report on consumer confidence, which could give investors more insight into how consumers are dealing with inflation. The U.S. government also will release its closely watched monthly employment report.


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