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Retail Stocks Off a Fraction

Bebe Stores’ shares down 16.6%.

Retail shares flirted with positive territory throughout the day but finished the first trading session of June down slightly.

After staying within a narrow range of less than 5 points, the S&P 500 Retailing Industry Group fell just short of a breakeven performance, declining less than 0.1 percent to 877.21.

The broader market managed small gains as the Dow Jones Industrial Average advanced 0.2 percent to 16,743.63 and the S&P 500 rose 0.1 percent to 1,924.97. Both finished the day at their highest closing levels of the year despite backing off from more elevated levels in the afternoon.

U.S. fashion, retail and beauty stocks tracked by WWD were close to evenly split between those gaining ground and those losing value. The strongest upward move of the day came from The Wet Seal Inc., up 5.6 percent to 89 cents, followed by G-III Apparel Group Ltd.’s 3.6 percent advance to $75.92. Express Inc. shares rose 3.2 percent to $13.01.

G-III is scheduled to disclose its quarterly financial results Tuesday.  Wet Seal and Express reported disappointing first-quarter results last week and saw their stocks lose substantial ground afterward.

The largest decline of the day by far among fashion stocks came from Bebe Stores Inc., down 17.3 percent to $3.39. The company reported a larger than expected third-quarter loss on May 8 and shares have dropped 30 percent since the quarterly numbers were disclosed.

Also falling on the day were Aéropostale Inc., off 8.2 percent to $3.59, and Sears Holdings Corp., down 6.4 percent to $39.36.

While the CAC 40 in Paris shed 0.1 percent to 4,515.89, other major markets in Europe registered increases, led by a 0.8 percent gain by Milan’s FTSE MIB to 21,796.17. London’s FTSE 100 rose 0.3 percent to 6,864.10 and Frankfurt’s DAX eked out a 0.1 percent gain to 9,950.12.

French Connection, which last month forecast its North American sales will fall below earlier expectations, saw its shares pull back 9.2 percent to 69 pence.

However, retail and luxury stocks were mostly up, with the day’s biggest risers including Mulberry Group, 2.2 percent to 7.40 pounds; Bonmarche Holding, 1.8 percent to 2.85 pounds; Hugo Boss, 1.6 percent to 105.07 euros, and Aeffe, 2.7 percent to 1.19 euros.

The euro traded at $1.36 against the U.S. dollar, while the pound fetched $1.67 and the Swiss franc equaled $1.12.