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Stocks fall but S&P 500 heads for best month since June

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There are a lot of positive signs in the US, portfolio manager says

Stocks traded slightly lower on Friday amid worries around U.S.-China trade relations as investors wrapped up a banner month for equities.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average dipped 60 points, or 0.2%. The S&P 500 also slipped 0.2% along with the Nasdaq Composite. Friday's session will end at 1 p.m. after the market was closed Thursday due to the Thanksgiving holiday.

The major averages, however, were headed for strong monthly gains despite Friday's losses. The S&P 500 is up 3.8% through Wednesday's close and is on pace for its biggest one-month gain since June, when it rallied more than 6%. The Dow and Nasdaq Composite are up 4.1% and 5%, respectively, for November. They were also on pace for their best month since June. Wall Street was also on pace to record solid weekly gains.

IT services company DXC Technology is the best-performing stock in the S&P 500 this month, rallying more than 30%. Chipmaker Qorvo is up 29%. Charles Schwab is also up more than 20% for the month. Disney shares have outperformed in the Dow this month, gaining 16.4% while UnitedHealth is up nearly 11% over that time period. 

Stocks have been 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.

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 got off to a slow start on Friday, with the SPDR S&P Retail ETF (XRT) dipping 0.4%. Best Buy shares pulled back 1.1% while Macy's fell 0.5%.

—CNBC's Silvia Amaro contributed to this report. 

source: CNBC

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