Retail Stocks Extend Losses

Saks sales point to weaker-than-expected consumer.

Retail stocks extended their losing streak to four-straight trading sessions today as investors continued to get signs that the consumer hasn’t been as strong as they expected.

The minutes from the Federal Reserve’s last meeting also fueled speculation policy makers will trim bond buying.

The S&P 500 Retailing Industry Group fell 0.1 percent, or 0.76 points, to 811.60, as the Dow Jones Industrial Average declined 0.5 percent, or 70.73 points, to 15,010.74.

Saks Inc. said second-quarter comparable-store sales increased 1.5 percent — a disappointment since in May the retailer projected comps would range from gains of 4 percent to 6 percent for the balance of the year. Shares of Saks, which is slated to be taken over by Richard Baker’s Hudson’s Bay Co. for $16 a share, slipped 5 cents to $15.97. The company is in the midst of a 40 day go-shop period when it can try to drum up other offers.

Also losing ground on Wall Street today were Pacific Sunwear of California Inc., down 7.4 percent to $3.52; The Bon-Ton Stores Inc., 3.3 percent to $14.26; Dillard’s Inc., 2.8 percent to $79, and Sears Holdings Corp., 2.6 percent to $40.12.

In Europe, the FTSE MIB in Milan fell 2.5 percent to 17,243.25, Paris’ CAC 40 lost 1 percent to 4,083.98, the FTSE 100 in London dropped 0.5 percent to 6,465.73, while the DAX in Frankfurt slipped 0.3 percent to 8,366.29.

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

Retail and luxury stocks were mostly down, with the day’s biggest decliners including Yoox, down 2.1 percent to 24.35 euros; L’Oréal, 1.9 percent to 127 euros, and Mulberry, 1.5 percent to 9.85 pounds.

Among the stocks gaining ground were Hermès, up 1 percent to 258.50 euros, and Marks & Spencer, which gained 1.4 percent to 4.60 pounds after the brand released its fall/winter 2013 campaign, which was shot by Annie Leibovitz and which shows the store’s new direction for the season.