Retail Stocks Inch Up

Sector gains ground, but markets slip despite a stronger job market.

U.S. retail stocks rose modestly today as October job gains topped expectations, but weakness in the energy and commodity sectors pulled down the broader market.

The S&P Retailing Industry Group was up 0.2 percent, or 1.05 points, to 680.91 as markets settled. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 1.1 percent, or 139.46 points, to 13,093.16.

Fashion’s gainers included True Religion Apparel Inc., up 2 percent to $26.60; Destination Maternity Corp., 1.6 percent to $19.21; and Fifth & Pacific Cos. Inc., 1.3 percent to $11.60. Ralph Lauren Corp. rose 1.1 percent to $160.75 after the company turned in better-than-expected second-quarter earnings, but said it would shutter the Rugby business.

The backdrop for fashion might be improving some. The Labor Department said the U.S. economy added 171,000 jobs last month — 50,000 more than economists projected. However, the unemployment rate, which is drawn from a separate survey, ticked up to 7.9 percent form 7.8 percent in September.

In Europe, markets inched higher, with investors taking some comfort from the improving employment picture in the U.S.

London’s FTSE 100 was up 0.1 percent to 5,868.55, while Paris’ CAC 40 expanded 0.5 percent to 3,492.46, and Frankfurt’s DAX grew 0.4 percent to 7,363.85. The FTSE MIB in Milan shrank 0.2 percent to 15,769.28.

Retail and luxury stocks closed on a strong note. Beiersdorf had an especially good day, rising 7.24 percent to 60.70 euros after raising its 2012 sales-growth forecast. Also gaining ground were Inditex, up 3.9 percent to 102.40 euros; Mulberry, 3.2 percent to 10.30 pounds; Burberry, 3.1 percent to 12.53 pounds, and Compagnie Financière Richemont, up 2.9 percent to 65.20 Swiss francs.

Among those stocks losing ground were Marks & Spencer, down 1.1 percent to 3.91 pounds, and Ferragamo, off 0.2 percent to 16.33 euros.

The pound was trading at $1.61 versus the dollar, while the euro traded at $1.30 and the Swiss franc at $1.07.