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Retail Stocks Inch Up

Investors analyze minutes of Fed meeting for guidance on interest rates.

Retail stocks posted a small gain today as investors parsed minutes from the last Federal Reserve meeting, which showed mixed sentiment when it came to cutting back on the central bank’s supports for the economy.

The S&P 500 Retailing Industry Group inched up 0.1 percent, or 0.85 points, to 827.01 and set a new all-time high of 828.02 in midday trading. The Dow Jones Industrial Average, slipped 0.1 percent, or 8.68 points, to 15,291.66.

The retail gainers included Sears Holdings Corp., up 3 percent to $44.71; Aéropostale Inc., 2 percent to $14.58; Ralph Lauren Corp., 1.4 percent to $180.02, and The Jones Group Inc., 0.9 percent to $16.26.

Fed chairman Ben S. Bernanke riled markets last month by indicating that the bank’s $85 billion-a-month bond buying program could be trimmed back later this year, a move that could push low interest rates higher. However the minutes of the June 18-19 meeting on monetary policy, released today, showed officials are still split on just when the Fed will be in a position to pull back.

In Europe, major indexes closed roughly flat, as investors in the region awaited the minutes of the Fed meeting and digested lackluster Chinese trade data. Paris’ CAC 40 and London’s FTSE 100 both closed down 0.1 percent, to 3,840.53 and 6,504.96, respectively, while Milan’s FTSE MIB dipped 0.7 percent to 15,677.26. The DAX in Frankfurt was up by 0.1 percent to 8,066.48.

 The pound traded at $1.51 against the dollar and the euro was worth $131.

Retail and luxury stocks had mixed results.  Burberry’s stock gained 4.8 percent to 15.09 pounds after the brand said its first-quarter retail sales were up 21 percent in a “standout” spring-summer season. Brunello Cucinelli and Inditex both gained 1.2 percent to 20.58 euros and 98.60 euros respectively.

Among the stocks losing ground were Mulberry, down 1.5 percent to 9.58 pounds; Yoox, 1.4 percent to 19.73 euros, and Asos, which lost 1.3 percent to 43.37 pounds.