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Retail Stocks Decline 0.3%

Major U.S. indices suffer light losses while markets see mixed close in Europe.

Retail stocks fell slightly today as major U.S. indices logged modest declines.

The S&P 500 Retailing Industry Group shed 0.3 percent to land at 939.07 while the Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 finished the day down 0.2 and 0.1 percent, respectively, at 16,418.68 and 1,877.17.

Stocks reacted less to tensions in Ukraine than to a report over the weekend that Chinese exports dropped unexpectedly last month.

Two recently pressured stocks traveled in different directions, with Sears Holdings Corp. rising 6 percent to $47.97 and American Apparel Inc. down the same percentage to 74 cents.

Also losing ground were two specialty retailers who’ll report fourth-quarter and full-year results later in the week. Aéropostale Inc.’s shares were down 5.2 percent to $7 while The Buckle Inc.’s dropped 1.9 percent to $46.94. Aéropostale reports after the market closes on Thursday and Buckle prior to Friday’s opening bell.

Elsewhere in the specialty retailing arena, The Wet Seal Inc. saw its shares rise 1.6 percent to $1.91 after it expanded its board with the addition of three independent directors and received assurances from activist investor The Clinton Group that it would vote for the entire slate of directors at the company’s annual meeting on May 22.

European markets yielded mixed results, with the FTSE MIB in Milan notching up a 0.6 percent gain to 20,753.36 and the CAC 40 in Paris edging up 0.1 percent to 4,370.84. However, the DAX slipped 0.9 percent to 9,265.50, while the FTSE 100 in London lost 0.4 percent to 6,689.45.

Fashion, luxury and retail stocks similarly produced mixed results as the week began.

Those that made gains included French Connection, up 4.2 percent to 61 pence, and Geox, up 4.4 percent to 3.49 euros. Aeffe climbed 1.5 percent to 0.83 euros and Hennes & Mauritz closed up 0.4 percent to 285.90 Swedish krona.

Those that lost ground included Yoox, down 2.8 percent to 31.39 euros; Safilo Group, which fell 4.3 percent to 16.01 euros; Marks & Spencer, which lost 3.1 percent to 4.81 pounds, and Mulberry, down 2.8 percent to 6.57 pounds.
 
The pound traded for $1.67 against the U.S. dollar, while the euro changed hands for $1.39 and the Swedish krona for 16 cents.