Retail stocks outpaced Wall Street today as the Federal Reserve open market committee kicked off a key meeting on monetary policy.


When the meeting warps up Wednesday, the Ben S. Bernanke-led Fed is expected to signal whether it will pull back some of its supports for the economy, buying less debt and ultimately pushing up interest rates. Investors, who have long fretted over just such a move, appear resigned to it.

The S&P 500 Retailing Industry Group rose 0.9 percent, or 7.59 points, to 842.41 as the Dow Jones Industrial Average increased 0.2 percent, or 34.95 points, to 15,529.73.

Leading the fashion pack was Aéropostale Inc., which jumped 18.1 percent to $10.17 after a regulatory filing revealed that funds managed by Sycamore Partners had bought nearly 8 percent of the company. The stock increase left Aéropostale with a market capitalization of $798 million.

Also gaining ground were Destination Maternity Corp., up 4.4 percent to $30.94; Elizabeth Arden Inc., 4.3 percent to $36.57; Abercrombie & Fitch Co., 2.9 percent to $38.43, and Amazon.com Inc., 2.7percent to $304.17.

European markets were generally in retreat in Europe and Asia.

London’s FTSE 100 fell 0.8 percent to 6,470.17, as Frankfurt’s DAX declined 0.2 percent to 8,596.95 and Paris’ CAC 40 slipped 0.2 percent to 4,145.51.

Bucking the trend was Milan’s FTSE MIB, which gained 0.1 percent to 17,751.65.

The decliners included Asos, down 7.4 percent to 49.64 pounds, or $78.98; Tod’s, 1.6 percent to 137.70 euros, or $183.93, and LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, 0.9 percent to 143.65 euros, or $191.87.

In Asia, Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 fell 0.7 percent to 14,311.67 and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index fell 0.3 percent to 23,180.52.

Shares of Prada — which reported a 7.6 percent rise in first half profits, but was more cautious on the second half — slipped 0.7 percent to 79.65 Hong Kong dollars, or $10.27.