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Retail Stocks Inch Up 0.1%

Led by Aéropostale, specialty stores were among the gainers on Wall Street.

Retail shares managed a small gain on Wall Street today — the sector’s ninth advance in 10 trading days.

The S&P 500 Retailing Industry Group was up 0.1 percent to 899.23, matching the gain of the S&P 500, which finished the day at 1,840.76. The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished in negative territory, shedding 0.2 percent to close at 16,130.40.

Aéropostale Inc. led those advancing among the equities tracked by WWD, picking up 5.5 percent to $6.50 as speculation continued to swirl about possible investments in the firm by private equity players.

The struggling New York-based teen retailer was part of a move forward by a number of specialty store chains on the day, which saw New York & Co. Inc. and Pacific Sunwear of California Inc. both pick up 3.8 percent to close, respectively, at $4.64 and $2.77.

Delia’s Inc., shares of which declined more than 10 percent in morning trading after it reported a sharp decline in sales and an increase in its net loss for the fourth quarter, closed the day unchanged at 75 cents.

In the continuing battle between The Men’s Wearhouse Inc. and Jos. A Bank Clothiers Inc., MW shares rose 0.8 percent to $44.42 while Bank’s declined 1.7 percent to $54.20. Eminence Capital, an investor in both firms, vowed to continue its pressure on Bank in both proxy and judicial form.

The Bon-Ton Stores Inc. and The Wet Seal Inc. had the largest declines for the day, both descending 4.2 percent to $9.54 and $1.85, respectively.

While most European markets barely moved, London’s FTSE 100 managed a 0.9 percent increase to 6,796.43. In Milan, the FTSE MIB was up 0.1 percent to 20,478.53, while Frankfurt’s DAX rose less than 0.1 percent to 9,659.78. The CAC 40 in Paris ended down 0.1 percent to 4,330.71.

With few exceptions, luxury, retail and beauty issues ended the session fairly close to their starting points. However, French Connection moved up 3.9 percent to 54 pence. Among a quartet of European stocks registering relatively large declines, Inditex was down 4 percent to 105.15 euros, Safilo Group lost 2.6 percent to 16.77 euros, H&M shed 2.3 percent to 285.80 kroner, and Carrefour pulled back 1.8 percent to 26.18 euros.

The euro traded at $1.36 versus the U.S. dollar, while the pound locked in at $1.64 and the krona at 15.3 cents.