Meanwhile, shoppers prepared to kick off the holiday shopping season, with retailers hoping for strong sales on the all-important "Black Friday."
Dedicated bargain hunters lined up outside storesfrom Wal-Mart to Target and Best Buy before the sun came up, hoping to be among the first to buy deeply discounted televisions and toys.
Early anecdotal evidence from shoppers who lined up at stores well before dawn on Friday and from industry analysts who hopped between several malls suggested traffic was strong and the appetite to buy was up from a year ago.
"Judging from the excitement at Toys R Us at 10 p.m. (Thursday) and throughout the evening, the shopper is back," Toys R Us Chief Executive Jerry Storch told Reuters.
Resource-related stocks were in focus as key base metals prices fell, pressured by a rise in margin requirements by the Shanghai Futures Exchange that prompted liquidation of speculative positions.
Rio Tinto slipped after the mining company said it plans to triple its capital expenditure to around $11 billion next year as it attempts to boost its iron ore production by more than 50 percent over five years.
Freeport McMoRan dropped almost 2 percent.
Boeing drew criticism from Qatar Airways and accused the plane maker, along with Air France, for failing to properly develop its 787 Dreamliner due to a growing trade war.
Ford climbed after the automaker said it will be adding 66 new dealerships in China by the end of this year, bringing its total number of dealerships in the country to 340. The firm inaugurated 40 new dealerships yesterday alone.
Private-equity firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts secured the purchase ofDel Monte Foods for about $4 billion in cash.
CPI International shares skyrocketed more than 33 percent after the manufacturer of electron devices agreed to be bought by an affiliate of private-equity firm Veritas Capital for $19.50 per share in cash, three months after larger rival Comtech Telecommunications dropped plans to buy the telecom equipment maker.
On Tap Next Week:
MONDAY: Texas manufacturing outlook survey, Chicago Fed Midwest manufacturing index, St. Louis Fed Pres Bullard speaks, Cyber Monday
TUESDAY: ISM-NY report on business, S&P/Case-Shiller home price index, consumer confidence, Minnesota Fed Pres Kocherlakota speaks, Bernanke speaks, Obama meets with Congressional leaders
WEDNESDAY: Auto sales, MBA mortgage applications, Challenger job-cut report, ADP employment report, productivity and costs, ISM mfg index, construction spending, oil inventories, Beige Book, Fed vice chair Yellen speaks
THURSDAY: ECB announcement, jobless claims, pending home sales, Philadelphia Fed Pres Plosser speaks, Fed Gov. Duke speaks, chain-store sales; Earnings from Toll Brothers, Del Monte and Kroger
FRIDAY: Employment situation, factory orders, ISM non-mfg index
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