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Retail Stocks Overcome Weak Confidence Report

Survey found consumer sentiment fell this month to lowest level since December 2011.

Retail stocks gained ground at the close on Wall Street today, fighting back from a midday decline that came on the heels of a weaker-than-expected take on consumer confidence.

The preliminary January reading of the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan’s index of consumer sentiment showed a decline to 71.3 from 72.9 the month before. Economists expected the gauge of sentiment to rise to 74.

The confidence index now stands at its lowest level since December 2011.

“Americans are noticing that their paychecks are smaller, and debt ceiling fatigue is starting to kick-in,” said Chris Christopher, U.S. economist at forecasting firm IHS Global Insight, in an analysis. “Discretionary consumer spending is likely to suffer since a smaller paycheck, and falling consumer confidence will bring caution into play at the mall.”

The drop in sentiment didn’t have a lasting impact on the market. The S&P Retailing Industry Group began the session by hitting a new all-time high of 685 and then fell into a funk before rebounding. As trading settled, the index was up 0.4 percent, or 2.49 points, to 684.40. The Dow Jones Industrial Average inched up 0.4 percent, or 53.68 points, to 13,649.70. U.S. markets are at or near multi-year highs.

Among the day’s fashion gainers were Movado Group Inc., 9.3 percent to $37.17; Tumi Holdings Inc., 5.6 percent to $23.78; J.C. Penney Co. Inc., 4 percent to $18.87; The Bon-Ton Stores Inc., 3.1 percent to $13.82, and Express Inc., 3.1 percent to $18.16.

In Europe, stocks were generally down outside of London, where the FTSE 100 gained 0.4 percent to 6,154.41.

Frankfurt’s DAX fell 0.4 percent to 7,702.23, as Milan’s FTSE MIB decreased 0.2 percent to 17,554.13 and Paris’ CAC 40 slipped 0.1 percent to 3,0741.58.

The decliners included Mulberry Group, down 2 percent to 12.50 pounds; Luxottica Group, 0.8 percent to 33.12 euros; ASOS.com, 0.7 percent to 26.82 pounds, and LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, 0.5 percent to 141.45 euros.

The pound traded at $1.59 against the dollar, while the euro went for $1.33.

The New York Stock Exchange will be closed Monday in observance of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day holiday.