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Wal-Mart Stock Hit by Sales Worries

Retail stocks fall as Target, Kohl’s, Amazon decline.

An errant e-mail from a Wal-Mart Stores Inc. executive bemoaning the state of February sales weighed on the company’s stock today, pushing it down 2.2 percent to $69.30 today.

Jerry Murray, Wal-Mart’s vice president of finance and logistics, told colleagues in a Feb. 12 email that month-to-date sales were “a total disaster,” according to a report by Bloomberg News, which obtained internal company e-mails. A Wal-Mart spokesman did not immediately return a request for comment.

More than 25 million shares of Wal-Mart traded hands, well above the 8.8 million daily average for the past three months. The firm’s decline weighed on the Dow Jones Industrial Average, which inched up just 8.37 points to 13,981.76.

On the other hand, shares of Gap Inc. shot up 4.9 percent to $32.88 on rumors that Japanese retail giant Fast Retailing wanted to buy the company. A Gap spokeswoman declined to comment.

Gap’s gain wasn’t enough to pull retail stocks into positive territory. The S&P 500 Retailing Industry Group—which includes Gap but not Wal-Mart—fell 0.5 percent, or 3.34 points, to 703.49.

The decliners included Target Corp., down 1.6 percent to $61.71; Amazon.com Inc., 1.5 percent to $265.12, and Kohl’s Corp. 1.4 percent to $46.34.

In Europe, markets closed slightly down. Investors largely remained on the sidelines while finance ministers and central bankers from the Group of 20 nations began a closely watched two-day meeting in Moscow.

The DAX in Frankfurt was down 0.5 percent to 7,593.51, followed by the CAC 40 in Paris and the FTSE MIB in Milan, which both dipped 0.3 percent, to 3,660.37 and 16,489.80, respectively. The FTSE 100 in London was up marginally, gaining 0.01 percent to 6,328.26.

The euro traded at $1.34 against the dollar and the pound was worth $1.55.

Retail and luxury stocks were mostly up with the day’s biggest gainers including Ferragamo, up 2.2 percent to 20.72 euros; Brunello Cucinelli, 1.7 percent to 15.43 euros, and PPR, 7.6 percent to 172 euros after posting a 6.3 percent rise in net profit for 2012.

Among the stocks losing ground were Asos.com, down 0.9 percent to 27.54 pounds, and Marks & Spencer, which dipped 0.3 percent to 3.87 pounds.