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Wall Street Holds Ground Against Sell Off

Retail stocks and Dow show only minor declines despite 7.3 percent selloff in Tokyo.

Wall Street managed to halt the sell-off that sent European and Asian markets — particularly Tokyo — reeling today.

The S&P 500 Retailing Industry Group was off 0.1 percent, or 0.61 points, to 789.78 as trading wound down in New York. The Dow Jones Industrial Average declined 0.1 percent, or 12.67 points, to 15,294.50.

 

The slightly negative performance was a far cry from the 7.3 percent drop of Tokyo’s Nikkei 225, which fell to 14,483.98. Investors were spooked by hints Tuesday from U.S. Federal Reserve chairman Ben S. Bernanke that the central bank might scale back its bond purchases, which have been keeping interest rates low.

Wall Street, which is still near its all-time high, fell Tuesday on similar worries that the Fed would pull back some of its support for the economy.

The decliners in fashion today included Ralph Lauren Corp., down 2.3 percent to $183.69 despite a 34.7 percent jump in the company’s fourth-quarter profits; Fifth & Pacific Cos Inc., 1.9 percent to $21.68; American Eagle Outfitters, 1.9 percent to $20.10; Nike Inc., 1.7 percent to $63.33, and Tiffany & Co., 1.5 percent to $76.19.

European markets were also pressured by a preliminary report from Markit showing that the euro zone’s manufacturing and services sector continued to contract in May.

London’s FTSE 100, Paris CAC 40 and Frankfurt’s DAX were all down by 2.1 percent, to 6,696.79, 3,967.15 and 8,351.98, respectively. Milan’s FTSE MIB dropped 3.1 percent to 17,008.42.

Retail and luxury stocks were down almost across the board. Those stocks losing the most ground included Compagnie Financière Richemont, down 5 percent to 88.15 Swiss francs; Ferragamo, 4.2 percent to 23.55, and LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, 3.1 percent to 137.40 euros.

Among the few stocks making increases were Safilo, up 1.2 percent to 13.91 euros, and Unilever, 0.3 percent to 32.74 euros.

The euro traded at $1.31 against the dollar, the pound $1.51 and the Swiss franc $1.07.