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Retail Stocks Hit New High, Then Fall

Dow ekes by for best close ever.

Retail stocks hit another new high on Wall Street today, but couldn’t hold on to the gains and closed with a modest decline.

The S&P 500 Retailing Industry Group slipped 0.2 percent, or 1.10 points, to 727.03. The Dow Jones Industrial Average managed a modest gain and closed up 2.77 points to 14,450.06, another record close.

Fashion’s gainers were led by The Bon-Ton Stores Inc., which rose 5 percent to $12.50 after the company beat fourth-quarter estimates and projected profits for 2013.

Also gaining was J.C. Penney Co. Inc., which rose 4 percent to $15.65 with unusually high volume in the stock. Nearly 36 million shares traded hands today, opposed to the 11.7 million daily average for the past three months. Penney’s denied rumors that chief executive officer Ron Johnson was about to leave the company.

The day’s decliners included Guess Inc., down 4.2 percent to $27.39; PVH Corp., 2.4 percent to $118.01, and Fifth & Pacific Cos. Inc., 2.3 percent to $18.69.

In Europe, markets were mixed.

Despite downbeat manufacturing data in Britain, the FTSE 100 in London closed up 0.1 percent to 6,510.62, while Paris’ CAC 40 was also just ahead by 0.1 percent to 3,839.97. The DAX in Frankfurt dipped 0.2 percent to 7,966.12 and Milan’s FTSE MIB dropped 0.4 percent to 16,023.98.

The pound traded at $1.49 against the dollar, while the Swiss franc was valued at $1.05 and the euro fetched $1.30.

Retail and luxury stocks also put on a mixed show, with the day’s biggest gainers including Mulberry, up 4.4 percent to 12.84 pounds; Compagnie Financière Richemont, 1.4 percent to 78.65 Swiss francs, and Asos.com, 1.3 percent to 31.71 pounds.

Among the stocks losing ground were Ferragamo, down 4.5 percent to 21.49 euros; Safilo, 2.6 percent to 9.70 euros; and Yoox 2.3 percent to 14.49 euros.