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Wall Street Stabilizes

Retail stocks flat after Thursday’s interest rate-fueled flop.

Wall Street managed to hold its ground today after Thursday’s rout, which was sparked by fears of higher interest rates.

 

The S&P 500 Retailing Industry Group inched up 0.16 points, to 772.91, as the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 0.3 percent, or 41.08 points, to 14,799.40.

Retail stocks fell 2.2 percent and the Dow tanked 2.3 percent Thursday as investors weighed statements earlier in the week from Federal Reserve chairman Ben S. Bernanke, who said the economy was strong enough to make due with fewer supports — which could lead to higher interest rates.

Although higher rates spook markets, retail analysts note they are a sign that the economy is stronger, which is good for consumers.

Among the day’s fashion decliners were The Bon-Ton Stores Inc., down 9.3 percent to $17.68; Fifth & Pacific Cos. Inc., 4.1 percent to $20.22; The Jones Group Inc., 3.9 percent to $13.90, and Saks Inc., 2.6 percent to $13.39.

Those perking up included The Procter & Gamble Co., 2.9 percent to $77.43; Coty Inc., 1.4 percent to $16.99, and The Gap Inc., 1.4 percent to $41.32.

Markets continued to sag in Europe.

Milan’s FTSE MIB fell 1.9 percent to 15,254.82, as Frankfurt’s DAX dipped 1.8 percent to 7,789.24, Paris’ CAC 40 slid 1.1 percent to 3,658.04, and London’s FTSE 100 contracted 0.7 percent to 6,116.17.
The euro traded at $1.31 against the dollar, and the pound was worth $1.51.

Retail and luxury stocks were predominantly down in the regions, with the day’s biggest decliners including Hermès International, down 3.7 percent to 240.1 euros; Burberry, 3.5 percent to 12.90 pounds; and Inditex, 2.7 percent to 92.72 euros.

Gaining ground, however, was Mulberry, which rose 1.2 percent to 8.60 pounds.