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Retail Down 0.6% on Wall Street

Amazon leads sector down with 1.8 percent decline.

Retail stocks slipped on Wall Street today as investors looked for direction.

The S&P 500 Retailing Industry Group dropped 0.6 percent, or 3.91 points, to 700.44, a steeper slide than seen by the Dow Jones Industrial Average, which declined 0.2 percent, or 21.73 points, to 13,971.24.

The retail index was led down by Amazon.com Inc., which fell 1.8 percent, to $257.21. Among the fashion and related companies losing ground were Jos. A. Bank Clothiers Inc., down 3.2 percent to $40.51; Elizabeth Arden Inc., 3.2 percent to $37.64; PVH Corp., 2.4 percent to $119.50; The Men’s Wearhouse Inc., 2.3 percent to $29.52, and Ann Inc., 1.9 percent to $28.53.

The Dow is within 200 points of its all-time high set in 2007, but investors haven’t been able to muster the conviction to break through the barrier. The economy is still shaky and Europe’s debt troubles remain worrisome. The retail index hit a new high-water mark of 713.13 last month, but has since retreated.

In Europe, the FTSE 100 in London gained 0.2 percent to 6,277.06 as the CAC 40 in Paris inched up 0.03 percent to 3,650.58. The DAX in Frankfurt declined 0.2 percent to 7,633.74 and the FTSE MIB in Milan showed edged down 0.6 percent to 16,529.87

The pound traded at $1.58 against the dollar while the euro traded at $1.34 and the Swiss franc went for $1.09.

Retail and luxury stocks were mostly off, with the exception of Mulberry Group, which was up 2.5 percent to 14.18 pounds; Metro AG, which advanced 1 percent to 24.70 euros, and Aeffe, which was up 1.4 percent to 0.68 euros.

Among the biggest decliners were Inditex, which sank 2 percent to 102.10 euros, and PPR and Safilo Group, which both retreated 2.3 percent, to 157.15 euros and to 8.40 euros, respectively.