By  on December 18, 2013

The Federal Reserve’s decision to begin to modestly taper its bond-buying program sent stocks up strongly today.

The S&P 500 Retailing Industry Group logged a 1.9 percent increase to 932.01 following the move. All major indices responded well, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average up 1.8 percent to 16,167.97 and the S&P 500 up 1.7 percent to 1,810.65.

The Dow’s 292.71-point advance allowed it to reclaim the 16,000 level surrendered one week ago, while the S&P’s 29.65-point uptick pushed it above 1,800 after a one-week hiatus.

In a move that had largely been expected and built into Wall Street’s expectations, the Fed opted to reduce its monthly asset purchases $10 billion, to $75 billion from $85 billion, based on growing signs of economic recovery.

The Fed also signaled that it wouldn’t move to raise the benchmark federal funds rate until “well past the time” the unemployment rate dips below 6.5 percent, especially if inflation remains low. In November, unemployment fell to 7 percent from 7.3 percent in October.

“Today's decision by the Fed is a vote of confidence in the sustainability of the economic recovery,” said Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services in a research note headlined “Today’s Taper Decision Was a Long Time Coming.” “Throughout the third round of quantitative easing, the Fed has maintained that its decisions will be ‘data dependent.’ On the heels of stronger-than-expected economic reports in October and November, reduced political uncertainty, and continuing growth in the private sector, the Fed has the data to taper.”

It noted that U.S. economic growth “should be even stronger” next year given the passage of the Ryan-Murray budget plan. The ratings agency currently expects growth of 2.6 percent next year, with the private sector expanding 3.1 percent.

Among fashion, retail and beauty stocks tracked by WWD, advancers outnumbered decliners by more than a four-to-one margin with a number of retailers setting the pace.

Shares of The Wet Seal Inc. rose 3.1 percent to $2.67 after The Clinton Group said it was considering an acquisition of the company. Clinton also boosted its stake in the teen retailer, to 8.1 percent from 7.8 percent.

Christopher & Banks Corp. rebounded 4.5 percent to $7.90 after sinking below $6 on Nov. 25. New York & Co. Inc. shares rose 3.2 percent to $4.22. Target Corp. was up 3.1 percent to $63.55. Nike Inc., due to report first-quarter earnings after the close of the markets on Thursday, saw its shares move up 2.3 percent to $78.55.

Coldwater Creek Inc. registered the largest decline in WWD’s sample, declining 7.3 percent to 76 cents, followed by The Bon-Ton Stores Inc.’s 2.5 percent drop to $17.70.

Closing earlier in the day, prior to the Fed announcement, European markets advanced strongly, led by Milan’s FTSE MIB, which rose 1.2 percent to 18, 131.49. The DAX in Frankfurt and CAC 40 in Paris were close behind, advancing 1.1 percent to 9,181.75 and 1 percent to 4,109.51, respectively. London’s FTSE 100 rose 0.1 percent to 6,492.08.

In its third day of trading in Milan, Moncler shares shot up 2.5 percent to 14.50 euros. They began trading Monday at 10.20 euros and ended Monday’s session at 14.97.

French Connection Group and Ferragamo both logged 2.8 percent increases today, to 37 pounds and 28.01 euros, respectively.

Among only a handful of European fashion and luxury stocks losing value were Marks & Spencer Group, off 2.4 percent to 4.42 pounds, and Burberry Group, down 1.6 percent to 14.29 pounds.

The euro traded for $1.37 against the U.S. dollar while the pound went for $1.63 and the Swiss franc fetched $1.13.

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