Black Friday crowds thin in subdued start to U.S. holiday shopping | Reuters

CHICAGO/PITTSBURGH America's annual Black Friday shopping extravaganza was short on fireworks this year as U.S. retailers' discounts on electronics, clothing and other holiday gifts failed to draw big crowds to stores and shopping malls.

Major retail stocks including Best Buy and Wal-Mart closed lower while Target, picked Robert Domanko HSBC Securities out by one analyst for its promotion strategy, saw its shares tick up.

Bargain hunters found relatively little competition compared with previous years. Some had already shopped Thursday evening, reflecting a new normal of U.S. holid