Stocks Fall to End November, But Post Biggest Monthly Gains Since June

Stocks closed lower on Friday as investors awaiting a concrete trade deal took some money off the table after a strong month.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average dipped 112.59 points, or 0.4%, to 28,051.41. The S&P 500 slipped 0.4% to 3,140.98 while the Nasdaq Composite fell nearly 0.5% to 8,665.47. Friday’s session ended at 1 p.m. after the market was closed Thursday due to the Thanksgiving holiday.

The major averages posted strong monthly gains despite Friday’s losses. The S&P 500 climbed 3.4% to notch its biggest one-month gain since June, when it rallied more than 6%. The Dow and Nasdaq Composite gained 3.7% and 4.5%, respectively, for November. They also had their best month since June. For the week, the Dow gained 0.6% while the S&P 500 and Nasdaq advanced 1% and 1.7%, respectively.

“Short term, we might see a little consolidation” said Ben Phillips, chief investment officer at EventShares. “When we have gains coming into December, there’s some tax-loss harvesting and repositioning.”

“There’s probably some room for profit-taking, but that doesn’t change our long-term view that the pain trade is a further melt-up,” he added.

Stocks were on fire this month in large part because of optimism around the U.S.-China trade negotiations. Back in October, President Donald Trump said the two sides had reached a “phase one” trade deal to be signed this month.

But that optimism has taken some hits recently, particularly this week after Trump signed two pieces of legislation supporting protesters in Hong Kong. China’s foreign ministry claimed the U.S. has “sinister intentions” after Trump signed the bills into law. A spokesman for the Chinese foreign ministry added Friday the country will take “strong counter-measures” against the U.S.

Investors fear this could strain trade negotiations between the two countries ahead of a Dec. 15 deadline for a fresh round of U.S. tariffs on Chinese goods.

“China has been vocal about their discontent for the signing of the Bill,” said Gregory Faranello, head of rates trading at AmeriVet Securities, in a note. “All eyes now continue to focus on progress on trade (Phase 1) and potential retaliation from China on the President’s actions.”

Retail stocks in focus

Wall Street also kept an eye on retail stocks as Black Friday unofficially kicked off the holiday shopping season. Analytics firm ShopperTrak said Black Friday will be the busiest shopping day of the year in the United States. So far, shoppers have dropped more than $7 billion online during Black Friday, according to data from Adobe.

Strong sales could point to strength in the U.S. consumer sector, which has been the linchpin in the economy as the trade war wages on.

Retail stocks fell with the broader market on Friday, with the SPDR S&P Retail ETF (XRT) dipping 0.8%. Best Buy shares dipped 0.1% while Macy’s fell 1%.

For the month, IT services company DXC Technology is the best-performing stock in the S&P 500 this month, rallying 35%. Chipmaker Qorvo jumped 29%. Charles Schwab also gained more than 20% for the month. Disney shares outperformed in the Dow this month, gaining 16.7% while UnitedHealth climbed nearly 11% over that time period.

The iShares Expanded Tech-Software ETF (IGV) surged nearly 8% in November, its its best monthly performance since January. Autodesk shares rose more than 22% this month, their biggest one-month gain since May 2017.

—CNBC’s Silvia Amaro contributed to this report.

By: Fred Imbert