Retail Stocks Lose Ground in August

Sector off 3.2 percent for month.

Wall Street closed out a bad month on a sour note.

The S&P 500 Retailing Industry Group fell 0.7 percent, or 5.26 points, to 809.12 today, as the Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped 0.2 percent, or 30.64 points, to 14,810.31.

Although most stocks are still up for the year, the retail index fell 3.2 percent for August, while the Dow slipped 4.5 percent.

Investors have been gauging the impact of a possible military intervention in Syria and also watching economic indicators to see when the Federal Reserve might begin to let interest rates creep up.

The day’s fashion decliners were led Pacific Sunwear of California Inc., which fell 16.8 percent to $3.26 after the company said its second-quarter losses widened to $19.2 million.

Also losing ground were The Wet Seal Inc., down 4.2 percent to $3.65; Stein Mart Inc., 4 percent to $12.15; Hanesbrands Inc., 3 percent to $59.48, and Aéropostale Inc., 2.8 percent to $8.13.

On the other side of the Atlantic, there was some good news: The European Commission in Brussels said economic confidence in the euro area rose to a two-year high in August. But that wasn’t enough to pull markets up.

The CAC 40 in Paris and Milan’s FTSE MIB both dropped 1.3 percent today to 3,933.78 and 16,682.21 respectively, while London’s FTSE 100 and the DAX in Frankfurt shrank 1.1 percent, to 6,412.93 and 8,103.15, respectively.

The pound traded at $1.51 against the dollar, while the euro was worth $1.31.

The day’s biggest gainers included Hermès International, which rose 2.1 percent to 253.70 euros after it said net profits jumped 13.9 percent in the first half to reach 381.7 million euros, or $501.2 million. L’Oréal gained 3.2 percent to 126.25 euros as it said first-half profits rose 5.2 percent to 1.71 billion euros, or $2.25 billion, with operating profits hitting an all-time high. Dollar figures for Hermès and L’Oréal were converted at average exchange rates for the periods in question.

Mulberry was up 1.3 percent to 9.90 pounds.

Among the stocks losing ground were Carrefour, down 1.6 percent to 23.68 euros; Tod’s, 2.2 percent to 135.30 euros, and Kering, 2 percent to 170.90 euros.