Wall Street spent Wednesday choosing between its faith in the judgment of billionaire investor Warren Buffett, who plowed $5 billion into Goldman Sachs, and fears about Washington’s handling of the proposed $700 billion mortgage bailout. In an interview with CNBC, Buffett said, “I am, to some extent, betting on the fact that the government will do the rational thing here and act promptly.” But concerns over the wrangling between the Bush administration and
Congress seemed to carry a bit more pull, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average closing down 0.3 percent, or 29 points, at 10,825.17. Retail stocks followed suit, with the Standard & Poor’s Retail Index off 0.5 percent, or 1.86 points, to 363.92. Luxe issues in particular took a hit after Neiman Marcus, which is privately held but has public debt, said its fourth-quarter losses more than doubled as high-end shoppers pulled back. Nordstrom stock dropped 5.8 percent to $29.81 and Saks was off 6.6 percent to $9 after hitting a new 52-week low earlier in the day. J. Crew also got hammered, with its stock falling 7.4 percent to $27.80. Among the companies in the WWD Stock Index posting the largest gains were three footwear firms: Crocs, LaCrosse Footwear and DSW.
* Editor’s note: European stocks are quoted in the currency of their principal exchanges. Shares on the London Stock Exchange are quoted in pence, Richemont and The Swatch Group are quoted in Swiss francs and Hennes & Mauritz is quoted in Swedish kronor. All other European stocks are in euros.