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Markets Look Past Tepid August Sales

Retail stocks were flat on Wall Street today after weak sales gain last month of just 0.2 percent.

Retail stocks were flat on Wall Street today after a disappointing reading on August sales.

The Commerce Department said total August retail and food service sales inched up a seasonally adjusted 0.2 percent from July — slower growth than the 0.4 percent gain economists projected. Sales at apparel and accessories tanked a seasonally adjusted 0.8 percent in August while general merchandise stores saw a 0.2 percent dip.

Investors took the report in stride. The S&P 500 Retailing Industry Group inched up 0.28 points, to 832.68, as the Dow Jones Industrial Average increased 0.5 percent, or 75.42 points, to 15,376.06.

The gainers included Lululemon Athletica Inc., which rose 4.7 percent to $68.37; Coty Inc., 3 percent to $15.87; Sears Holdings Corp., 2.7percent to $60.42, and Macy’s Inc., 2.7 percent to $44.70.

The National Retail Federation, however, was some more animated on the sales report.

“Slow growth continues to be the economic story five years after the financial crisis,” said Matthew Shay, president and chief executive officer of the NRF. “The economy, employment, wages, and retail sales continue to stagger along. Retailers and consumers are resilient but not overly optimistic about the broader economy. While positive retail sales growth continues month-after-month, it is just not strong enough to move the needle.”

In Europe, markets closed at about even for the day. The FTSE 100 in London edged down 0.1 percent to 6,583.80 as other markets made marginal gains.

The CAC 40 in Paris and the DAX in Frankfurt were both up 0.2 percent, to 4,114.50 and to 8,509.42, respectively, while the FTSE MIB in Milan advanced 0.1 percent to 17,547.91.

The euro traded at $1.33 against the dollar, while the pound fetched $1.58 and the Swiss franc equaled $1.07.

Retail and luxury stocks were mostly on the uptick, with the day’s biggest gainers including Beiersdorf, 1.6 percent to 66.25 euros; Inditex, 2.2 percent to 110 euros, and Mulberry Group, 4.2 percent to 9.90 pounds.

Among the stocks that lost the most ground were Metro AG, down 1.3 percent to 29.12 euros, and Aeffe, down 1.1 percent to 0.63 euros.