International markets roundup

A roundup of trading on major world markets:

NEW YORK - US stocks have ended little-changed in a shortened session a day after the Thanksgiving holiday, with retailers in focus as Black Friday sales kicked off the important year-end shopping season.

Investors shrugged off a steep plunge in Chinese stocks, sparked after authorities opened investigations into several brokerages.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average on Friday slipped to 17,798.49, down 14.90 points (0.08 per cent), as Disney weighed.

The broad-based S&P 500 edged up 1.24 (0.6 per cent) to 2,090.11, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index advanced 11.38 (0.22 per cent) to 5,127.52.

"Unsurprisingly, the Friday session was very quiet with trading volume running well below average," said.

Stocks had moved little in the week's first three days of trading. Markets were closed on Thursday for Thanksgiving Day, and closed three hours early Friday, at 1800 GMT. No economic indicators were on the agenda.

"With nothing in the way of earnings or economic data to digest, traders will await Black Friday updates from retailers," said Alex Eppstein at Schaeffer's Investment Research.

LONDON - European shares have retreated, hit by a drop in shares of mining companies after a slump in Chinese equities. Anticipation of further stimulus by the European Central Bank next week helped to cushion the fall.

Britain's FTSE 100 and France's CAC40 both closed down 0.3 per cent, while Germany's DAX was down 0.2 per cent.

Mining stocks fell the most, declining 2.7 per cent. China, the world's biggest consumer of metals, saw stocks slide over five per cent after a regulatory crackdown and deteriorating industrial profits data.

Anglo American led the decline, falling 8.2 per cent after shutting down an Australian coal mine.

Some investors are worried markets would see a repeat of events this past August, when China let its currency fall and jolted equities globally. Others say that might be less likely if the yuan joined the IMF's reserve basket next week.

"Miners are suffering from China and a stronger US dollar outlook. There is clearly a risk that China will try and devalue the currency further, but there is less risk of that compared to earlier in the year," said Ankit Gheedia, equity and derivative strategist at BNP Paribas.

"(However) Europe is still trading on the ECB next week, which is why the market is relatively resilient."

HONG KONG - A plunge in Chinese stocks has dragged Asian markets down with authorities investigating several brokerages and profits at the country's industrial giants sinking more than expected.

With Shanghai slumping more than six per cent at one point, Friday's sharp losses brought back painful memories of the panic-driven sell-off that struck China's equities markets in the northern summer, wiping trillions of dollars off valuations.

Selling intensified on Friday after Beijing said industrial profits fell more than forecast in October.

Meanwhile, the country's biggest brokerage Citic Securities said on Thursday it was being investigated for suspected "rule violations".

And on Friday another giant, Guosen Securities, said it was being investigated, while second-ranked Haitong Securities halted trading of its shares in Shanghai and Hong Kong.

"The biggest reason for such a sudden drop today is regulators' investigation of the top brokers. It's triggered a broader sell-off," said Phillip Securities analyst Chen Xingyu.

"(The) investigation suggests the firms could be in some serious trouble," he said. But he added Friday's losses were "totally different from the routs in July and August".

Shanghai's stock market ended the day 5.5 per cent lower, while Shenzhen's composite index, which tracks stocks on China's second exchange, slumped 6.1 per cent.

Hong Kong ended down 1.9 per cent, while Japan's Nikkei ended in the red after the government said prices fell in October, while consumer spending also dropped, overshadowing news that unemployment was at a two-decade low.

WELLINGTON - The S&P/NZX 50 index rose 13.11 points, or 0.2 per cent, to 6101.

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