Retail stocks fell on Wall Street today as investors picked through the minutes of last month’s Federal Reserve meeting and found some participants contemplating a tighter monetary policy — which could slow economic growth.
The S&P 500 Retailing Industry Group fell 1.3 percent, or 9.47 points, to 699.43, as the Dow Jones Industrial Average declined 0.8 percent, or 108.13, to 13,927.54. Contributing to the retail index’s decline were Abercrombie & Fitch Co., down 2.4 percent to $50.84; Nordstrom Inc., 2.3 percent to $55.15; Macy's Inc., 2.3 percent to $39.51, and Tiffany & Co., 1.9 percent to $64.40.
Shares of Michael Kors Holdings Ltd. also fell, dropping 5.2percent to $61.50, after the company said late Tuesday that early investors planned to sell another 25 million Kors shares on the open market. The news came just after the stock hit an all-time high of $64.84.
Minutes from the last Fed meeting on monetary policy showed, “a number of participants stated that an ongoing evaluation of the efficacy, costs, and risks of asset purchases might well lead the committee to taper or end its [debt] purchases before it judged that a substantial improvement in the outlook for the labor market had occurred.”
Others at the meeting argued the Fed should continue to buy back debt.
The central bank, led by chairman Ben S. Bernanke, has been buying debt to keep interest rates low in hopes of growing the economy fast enough to bring down unemployment, currently at 7.9 percent.
In Europe, stock markets were mostly down. The FTSE MIB in Milan retreated 0.8 percent to 16,527.50 as the CAC 40 in Paris was down 0.7 percent to 3,709.88 and the DAX in Frankfurt fell 0.3 percent to 7,728.90.
The FTSE 100 in London edged up 0.3 percent to 6,395.37.
Retail and luxury stocks were also mixed, with the day’s biggest gainers including Hugo Boss, up 2.4 percent to 89.47 euros; Luxottica Group, 1.5 percent to 34.89 euros, and Yoox, 2.3 percent to 14.47 euros.
Among the stocks that lost the most ground were Metro AG, down 1.3 percent to 24.00 euros; Inditex, 1.8 percent to 100.65 euros, and Asos.com, 1.6 percent to 27.85 pounds. The euro traded at $1.34 while the pound went for $1.55 and the Swiss franc traded at $1.08.
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