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Retail Stocks Continue Slide

J.C. Penney leads the way down after big sales drop.

Wall Street today posted its first — and very modest — gain since Tuesday’s presidential election, but retail stocks continued to fall amid worries about the “fiscal cliff” and Greece’s slipping lifeline.

The S&P 500 Retailing Industry Group fell 0.3 percent, or 1.84 points, to 635.23, as the Dow Jones Industrial Average inched up 4.07 points to 12,815.39 — 430 points down from Election Day.

J.C. Penney Co. Inc. led retail stocks down, falling 4.8 percent to $20.64 after its third-quarter same-store sales declined 26.1 percent. Chief executive officer Ron Johnson is trying to transform the chain into a specialty department store and giving up significant market share in the process.

Also declining were Maidenform Brands Inc., down 4.1 percent to $17.19; Hot Topic Inc., 3.4 percent to $8.31, and Stein Mart Inc., 2.4 percent to $6.90. Stein Mart said it would restate more than three-years’ worth of its financial reports due to an accounting problem.

Most markets closed down in Europe, where investors were worrying over the future of Greece.

The European Central Bank said earlier this week it was done helping to finance the debt-laden country, and it is unclear how much more aid Greece will get from the European Union.

The DAX in Frankfurt lost the most, falling 0.6 percent to 7,163.50, followed by the FTSE MIB in Milan and the FTSE 100 in London, which were both down 0.1 percent, to 15,181.00 and to 5,769.68, respectively.

Paris’ CAC 40 climbed 0.5 percent to 3,423.57.

Losing ground were Asos.com, which was down 3.6 percent to 21.35 pounds; Geox, 6.6 percent to 2 euros, and Yoox, 1.7 percent to 11.34 euros.

Picking up steam were Hermès International, up 2.1 percent to 228.30 euros; L’Oréal, 2.5 percent to 98.60 euros; Inditex, 2.9 percent to 100 euros, and Carrefour, 2 percent to 18.67 euros.

The euro traded at $1.28 versus the dollar while the pound traded at $1.60 and the Swiss franc traded at $1.06.