Originally created 11/29/03

Stocks show little change in light post-holiday trading

NEW YORK -- Stocks finished essentially flat on Friday in very light post-Thanksgiving trading, as the market struggled to find direction in an absence of economic news.

The Dow Jones industrial average closed up 2.89, or 0.03 percent at 9,782.46.

Broader stock indicators were narrowly mixed at the end of Friday's abbreviated trading session. The Nasdaq composite index rose 6.95, or 0.4 percent, to 1,960.26. The Standard & Poor's 500 index finished the day down 0.25 points, or 0.1 percent, to 1,058.20.

For the week, the Dow finished 1.6 percent higher, the Nasdaq advanced 3.5 percent, and the S&P gained 2.2 percent. It was the first winning week in three weeks.

For the month, the three main gauges finished mixed, with the Dow slipping 0.2 percent, the Nasdaq gaining 1.5 percent, and the S&P rising 0.7 percent.

The drift in stocks during Friday's session reflected a day with almost no market-shaping news. The exceptions were President Bush's surprise trip to Iraq and the dollar's drop to a new low against the euro, continuing a recent trend. The dollar was also lower against most other key currencies.

The news on the dollar would normally be expected to push stocks lower, and it exerted some downward pressure Friday.

But the day after Thanksgiving is nearly always one that sees the market edge higher, with so many people taking the day off that there is usually little selling momentum, said Todd Clark, head of listed equity trading at Wells Fargo Securities in San Francisco.

"We're basically seeing (the weak dollar) get shrugged off in favor of more of the seasonality factor here," Clark said.

The flat day in stocks followed four consecutive sessions of gains on Wall Street, capped by modest increases on Wednesday, the last trading day before the holiday. With most traders and investors taking the day off, the stock market closed at 1 p.m. Friday.

Shares of Johnson & Johnson fell 41 cents to $49.29, following the company's announcement Thursday that it had suspended trials of an anemia drug, Procrit, because some patients had developed blood clotting.

On the day regarded as the kickoff to the holiday shopping season, shares of Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the nation's largest retailer, fell 6 cents to $55.24.

Shares in Toys "R" Us rose 42 cents to $11.74.

Pharmaceutical maker Schering-Plough Corp. saw its shares rise 69 cents to $16.07 after the company said its chairman and CEO, Fred Hassan, had bought $4.7 million of its stock.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by a 4-to-3 ratio on the New York Stock Exchange. Consolidated volume came to 609 million shares, down from 1.42 billion shares on Wednesday.

The Russell 2000 index, which tracks smaller company stocks, was up 1.20, or 0.2 percent, to 546.51.

Overseas, Japan's Nikkei stock average finished down 0.6 percent. In Europe, France's CAC-40 lost 0.2 percent, Britain's FTSE 100 declined 0.4 percent and Germany's DAX index was essentially unchanged.

On the Net:

New York Stock Exchange: http://www.nyse.com

Nasdaq Stock Market: http://www.nasdaq.com


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