Retail Stocks Gain Ahead of Holiday Season

Retail index up 0.6 percent on Wall Street.

Wall Street headed off for the Thanksgiving holiday on an up note — for most.

The S&P 500 Retailing Industry Group rose 0.6 percent, or 4.11 points, to 663.33, as the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 0.4 percent, or 48.38 points, to 12,836.89.

The day’s gainers included Aéropostale Inc., up 3 percent to $13.92; Jos. A. Bank Clothiers Inc., 2.2 percent to $48.24; Chico’s FAS Inc., 1.9 percent to $18.37; Fifth & Pacific Cos. Inc., 1.9 percent to $11.90, and Amazon.com Inc., 1.8 percent to $238.03.

Running countertrend was Zale Corp., which posted worse-than-expected first-quarter losses of $28.3 million, or 88 cents a share, and saw its stock drop 30 percent to $5.21.

Retailers and Web sites are geared up for the holiday season and while shoppers remain relatively confident, they’re paying close attention to the looming “fiscal cliff” of automatic tax hikes and spending cuts.

The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan Surveys of Consumers Index of Consumer Sentiment inched up to 82.7 this month from 82.6 in October.


“The gains in confidence ended in late November as consumers became more uncertain about when and how the fiscal cliff with be bridged,” said Richard Curtin, chief economist at the Surveys of Consumers. “While they had anticipated a last minute settlement, some consumers are beginning to doubt whether that will happen before higher tax rates take effect in January. While a resolution just before year-end could reverse any future spending declines, it would nonetheless diminish holiday spending.”

The holiday spending season starts in earnest Friday—or on Thanksgiving Day for some chains looking to draw the earliest of early-bird shoppers. Forecasters generally expect sales growth to slow this holiday season, though profits growth could perk up as retailers enjoy the benefits of lower cotton costs and face easier comparison.

In Europe, markets closed higher as investors watched for signs of progress on the Greek bailout deal that stalled on Tuesday in Brussels. European finance ministers are to resume talks on how to deal with Greece’s debt crisis on Monday.

The FTSE MIB in Milan led the way, gaining 0.8 percent to 15,394.62, followed by the CAC 40 in Paris, which grew 0.4 percent to 3,477.36. The DAX in Frankfurt expanded 0.2 percent to 7,184.74, and the FTSE 100 in London gained by 0.1 percent to 5,752.03.

The day’s biggest gainers included Brunello Cucinelli, up 4.5 percent to 13.61; Asos.com, 3.9 percent to 23.75 pounds; Mulberry, 1 percent to 10.71, and Luxottica, 0.7 percent to 30.47.

However, shares of French Connection Group slipped 1 percent to 24.75 pounds after the firm released its interim trading update, which the retail business in Europe and the U.K. had improved during the 16 weeks to Nov. 20. French Connection said that revenue during the third quarter was flat versus a year earlier. That compared with a drop of 9.5 percent in the first half of the year.

Other decliners included Inditex, down 0.3 percent to 101.15 euros, and Burberry, 1.1 percent to 12.33 pounds.

The euro traded at $1.28 versus the dollar and the pound was valued at $1.59.