NEW YORK -- Apparel and retail stocks escaped relatively unscathed in the face of a 72.27-point plunge in the Dow Jones Industrials, to 3626.75, on Wednesday.

Spooked by higher bond yields, the Dow Jones fell for the fifth straight session, during which a total of 170 points have been shaved off the index. Wednesday's fall was the largest one-day drop since Feb. 4, when the Federal Reserve bumped short-term rates by one-quarter of a point.

Retail stocks appeared to avoid the carnage, some showing gains and the rest just marginal declines.

The Gap was up 2 1/8, to 44 7/8, and Dayton Hudson managed a 3/4-point gain, to 73 3/4. J.C. Penney slipped 1 to 52 3/4; May Department Stores was off just 1/8, to 41 3/8, and Federated Department Stores eased 5/8, to 22.

The heaviest hit, percentage-wise, was taken by Woolworth, which dropped 7/8, to 17 1/8, a loss of about 5 percent. Woolworth announced Wednesday that it would have to restate its results because of accounting irregularities.

In the apparel group, losses were mostly fractional. Jones Apparel Group dipped 1/4, to 32 3/8; Fruit of the Loom slipped 3/8, to 30 1/2; VF eased 1/8, to 50 3/8, and Warnaco gave up 3/8, to 30. Moving against the trend were Liz Claiborne, which gained 7/8, to 24 1/8, and Bernard Chaus, which added 1/8, to 2 1/2.

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