U.S. stocks ended narrowly mixed in light volume trade Friday, under some pressure from declines in Disney and oil prices as investors eyed Black Friday shopping results. (Tweet This)
Trade volume across all exchanges as of the abbreviated session end was about 2.85 billion, the lowest for 2015. The U.S. stock market closed at 1 p.m. Friday after being closed Thursday for the Thanksgiving holiday.
"It's always difficult to find a trend in a holiday-shortened week with not everybody around, but I think the data (we got Wednesday) continues to be supportive of economic growth," said Jim Dunigan, chief investment officer at PNC Asset Management.
There's "still some hopes of a Santa Claus rally as we close out the year but I don't see significant (support) for upside in the next couple of weeks," he said.
The Dow Jones industrial average ended about 13 points lower as shares of Walt Disney weighed. The stock closed off session lows but still down about 3 percent after regulatory filings showed more than 3 percent from the previous fiscal year.
The S&P 500 eked out a gain of about 1 point despite a roughly 0.7 percent decline in energy stocks. WTI crude traded more than 2.5 percent lower.
The Nasdaq composite gained 0.2 percent, helped by some gains in Netflix and biotech stocks.
The bond market closes at 2 p.m., while gold and oil settled an hour early at 12:30 and 1:30 p.m., respectively.
"It looks like retail sales got off to a good start, from what I can see," JJ Kinahan, chief strategist at TD Ameritrade.
Target said Black Friday weekend shopping kicked off with "unprecedented" results on Target.com and "a strong turnout" at stores Thanksgiving Day. The stock closed about 0.4 percent higher.
Most major retailers ended the abbreviated trading session in the red, with Macy's and Kohl's both off nearly 1 percent.Nordstrom ended down 0.3 percent, while J.C. Penney closed down 0.7 percent. Gap and Urban Outfitters declined about 2.5 percent or more. Abercrombie & Fitch closed up 0.7 percent.
The SPDR S&P Retail ETF (XRT) ended mildly lower but posted a gain of 3.17 percent for the week. The ETF remained above its 50-day moving average after topping it in the close Wednesday.
Retail stocks have been "pretty treacherous ground. I think it's more a story of expectations being pretty low," said Eric Mintz, co-portfolio manager at Eagle Asset Management.
The major U.S. averages ended the week mixed, with only the Dow lower and the S&P 500 a touch higher, as stocks mostly shook off continued geopolitical concerns, including the downing of a Russian jet Tuesday.
"I think the fact that we've had a couple of impressive weeks is keeping people from buying in and we've had some geopolitical situations that we haven't had past Thanksgivings," Kinahan said.
The week of Thanksgiving is seasonally positive for stocks. Over the last 10 years, the S&P 500 was up for six of those holiday weeks and posted an average return of 1.9 percent, according to Kensho.
"I think we shouldn't overreact to the news and the market isn't overreacting to the news, which is good, but there are definitely increased instabilities now as opposed to a decade ago. ... ISIS has people laced throughout Europe. Those will probably come to light in the next month or two," said Anders Corr, principal of Corr Analytics, which provides political risk analysis.
"I would react more, from a market perspective, to what is the government response," he said.
No major economic or earnings news were due Friday, but next week brings the key November employment data, the last jobs report before the Federal Reserve decides on interest rates at its Dec. 15 and 16 meeting. The European Central Bank is expected to further easing at its meeting next Thursday.
The U.S. dollar index traded above 100, with the euro near $1.06 and the yen at 122.83 yen against the greenback.
Gold futures for December delivery settled down $13.80 at $1,056.20 an ounce after earlier hitting near six-year lows. The precious metal posted its sixth-straight week of decline, under pressure from the strong dollar and growing confidence in a U.S. rate hike next month.
Treasury yields held lower Friday, with the at 0.92 percent and the 10-year yield at 2.22 percent.
"Even though there's a lot of consensus (the Fed will) raise rates, I don't think there's a lot of consensus about the path," said Bryce Doty, senior fixed income manager with Sit Investment Associates. He expects the Fed to raise short-term rates in December and March.
"Everyone's nervous about what the employment report is going to be a week from today," he said, also noting some pre-weekend positioning.
European stocks ended slightly lower on the day. The German DAX gained about 1.5 percent for the week, its seventh week of gains out of the last eight.
Asian stocks ended lower, led by a decline in mainland Chinese stocks after news the China Securities Regulatory Commission launched investigations into local brokerages to crack down on short selling and speculation.
The Shanghai composite plunged 5.48 percent Friday, its worst day since Aug. 25 and posting its worst week since the one ended Aug. 28. The Hang Seng fell 1.87 percent for its fifth-straight day of decline and its worst week since the week ended Sept. 25.
Analysts said the more important concern for global markets is any indication of unexpectedly greater slowdown in the world's second-largest economy, rather than local stock moves.
"China volatility doesn't seem to be affecting the overall market here, not withstanding a little pressure in oil," Mintz said.
Profits earned by Chinese industrial companies fell 4.6 percent in October from a year earlier, China's National Bureau of Statistics said Friday.
The index closed the week down 0.14 percent, with Walt Disney the greatest decliner on the week and Home Depot the best performer.
The closed up 1.2 points, or 0.06 percent, at 2,090.11, with telecommunications leading seven sectors higher and materials, consumer discretionary and energy the only decliners.
The S&P 500 was up 0.04 percent for the week, with consumer staples and energy the top gainers and utilities the worst performer.
The Nasdaq composite closed up 11.38 points, or 0.22 percent, at 5,127.52. The Nasdaq closed up 0.44 percent for the week.
The Dow transports outperformed the major U.S. averages with gains of half a percent, but posted a 1 percent decline for the week.
The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX), widely considered the best gauge of fear in the market, held above 15.
About three stocks advanced for every two decliners on the New York Stock Exchange, with an exchange volume of 388 million and a composite volume of about 1.4 billion in the close.
High-frequency trading accounted for 49 percent of November's daily trading volume of about 7 billion shares, according to TABB Group. During the peak levels of high-frequency trading in 2009, about 61 percent of 9.8 billion of average daily shares traded were executed by high-frequency traders.
U.S. crude oil for January delivery settled down $1.33, or 3.09 percent, at $41.71 a barrel.
Disclosure: CNBC's parent NBCUniversal has a minority stake in Kensho.