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Retail Stocks Fall 0.7%

Sector down as Wall Street posts decline.

U.S. retail stocks fell 0.7 percent today as Wall Street drifted lower.

The S&P Retail Index declined 4.59 points to 658.18 as the Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped 0.2 percent, or 20.55 points, to 13,558.92.

Among the hardest hit was J.C. Penney Co. Inc., which fell 4.8 percent to $24.65. The company’s stock been volatile as investors handicap chief executive officer’s Ron Johnson’s turnaround efforts.

Other decliners included Michael Kors Holdings Ltd., down 5 percent to $54.50; Abercrombie & Fitch Co., 3.7 percent to $35.53; Limited Brands Inc., 3.1 percent to $50.12, and The Bon-Ton Stores Inc., 2.4 percent to $10.25.

European stock markets closed down with the CAC 40 in Paris posting the biggest drop. Euro zone investors are still worrying over the currency bloc’s weaker countries, such as Spain, as well as the governmental response to the financial crisis.

The French market was down 1 percent to 3,497.22. The FTSE MIB in Milan fell 0.8 percent to 15,867.07, while the FTSE 100 in London dropped 0.2 percent to 5,838.84. The DAX in Frankfurt contracted 0.5 percent to 7,413.16.

Retail and luxury stocks put on a mixed show, with the day’s biggest gainers including Italian clothing manufacturer Aeffe, which climbed 15.4 percent to 0.70 euros, and Yoox, 3.3 percent to close at 10.49 euros; LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, 0.2 percent to 122.85 euros, and Marcolin 1.5 percent to 4.42 euros.

Among the stocks that lost the most ground were Asos.com, which fell 3.7 percent to 22.63 pounds; Compagnie Financière Richemont, 1.2 percent to 58.95 Swiss francs, and Burberry Group, 0.7 percent to 10.29 pounds.

The euro traded at $1.30 against the dollar, while the pound traded at $1.62 and the Swiss franc at $1.07.