A positive Beige Book report from the Federal Reserve lifted stocks late Wednesday, but retail shares failed to advance.
The S&P 500 Retailing Industry Group pulled back 0.2 percent to 919.28, shaking off a deeper decline earlier in the day. The Dow Jones Industrial Average enjoyed a second consecutive triple-digitgain, adding 108.08 points, or 0.7 percent, to end the session at 16,481.94, while the S&P 500 moved ahead 0.5 percent to 1,848.38.
Equities picked up steam in the late afternoon after the Fed, in its monthly Beige Book report, showed healthy economic momentum, with nine of its 12 districts describing growth as moderate.
Among retail, fashion and beauty stocks tracked by WWD, the largest decline of the day was registered by Birks Group Inc., shares of which declined 18 percent, to $1.31, following its report late Tuesday of a decline in its net sales for its third quarter, which ended last month, and same-store sales for the quarter and November-December holiday period.
The second largest decline among the WWD sample came from Cache Inc., with a far more modest sell-off of 4.5 percent, to $5.35, for the day.
Shares of Aéropostale Inc. opened up 6.2 percent, at $8.21, but gave back most of the gains over the course of the day and closed ahead 0.7 percent at $7.78. Speculation swirled around the embattled teen retailer early in the day that it might be engaged in talks with private equity players regarding a possible sale but quieted in the afternoon. Sycamore Partners has an 8 percent stake in the retailer and Hirzel Capital Management owns 6 percent of the stock. Additionally, activist shareholder Crescendo Partners last year said it had a stake and pushed the New York-based retailer to explore a sale, prompting the retailer to adopt a poison pill last November.
Stifel Nicolaus analyst Richard Jaffe rated the chances of a sale at “better than 50 percent” and speculated that a takeout could bring a premium of 20 percent to shares’ closing price of $7.73 on Tuesday, or about $9.35 a share.
Among the fashion companies gaining ground Wednesday were Oxford Industries Inc., up 4.7 percent to $80.16; Sears Holdings Corp., up 2.9 percent to $36.70, and Express Inc., up 2.1 percent to $18.76.
J.C. Penney Co. Inc. disclosed its plans to close 33 stores before midyear after the markets closed. Shares rose 1.2 percent to $7.01 prior to the announcement.
Europe’s indices all registered strong gains, led by a 2 percent spurt, to 9,733.81, by the DAX in Frankfurt.
The CAC 40 in Paris was up 1.4 percent to 4,332.07 and the FTSE MIB in Milan up 1.6 percent to 20,045.76, while the FTSE 100 in London gained 0.8 percent to 6,819.86.
Boosting investor confidence, the World Bank predicted growth above 5 percent for developing countries' economies in 2014 and global GDP growth of 3.2 percent during the year.
Fashion, luxury and retail stocks had a mixed day.
Burberry was up 4.6 percent to 15.37 pounds and was among the FTSE 100’s top five performers after reporting strong third-quarter revenues Wednesday. The London-based luxury label said thatits retail sales rose 14 percent to 528 million pounds, or about $856 million, in the three months ended Dec. 31. Comparable sales rose 12 percent at constant exchange.
Mulberry also gained, rising 3.8 percent to 9.41 pounds, while LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton rose 1.9 percent to 128.70 euros.
Losing value were Unilever, down 1.1 percent to 28.26 euros; Aeffe, down 0.6 percent to 0.86 euros, and Brunello Cucinelli, which fell 0.4 percent to 22.68 euros.
The pound traded for $1.64 against the U.S. dollar, while the euro changed hands for $1.37.
As one of the most recognizable models in the world, Christy Turlington Burns has an insider’s view of the fashion industry and the allegations of sexual harassment swirling around it. “I can say that harassment and mistreatment have always been widely known and tolerated in the industry. The industry is surrounded by predators who thrive on the constant rejection and loneliness so many of us have experiences at some point in our careers,” Turlington told WWD, along with her suggestions for how the modeling world should protect younger women and men. Read more on WWD.com. Link in bio. (📷: Tony Palmieri) #wwdnews
@asics America has tapped a new brand ambassador: famed DJ/record producer @steveaoki. This initiative is intended to set the tone for the new brand identity and philosophy and will include partnerships with influencers and in-store and off-line activations that will continue into next year. This is Asics’ most significant marketing effort in two decades, and is expected to attract younger consumers to the brand. #wwdfashion
24-year-old Jean Prounis is redefining the rules of jewelry. Formerly a studio assistant to Jemima Kirke and a design apprentice at Ghuran, she focuses on handcrafted subtleties and ancient goldsmithing techniques. “There was a really sterile feel in the environment and I wanted to have jewelry with character that shapes how you wear it everyday,” Prounis said. Each piece is hand made in New York, either by Prounis or three other jewelers in the district. #wwdfashion
“These collections continue to build on that vision, empowering differently abled adults to express themselves through fashion,” said @tommyhilfiger of his line of adaptive apparel, which launches today. The line consists of 37 men’s and 34 women’s styles based upon the pieces from the spring Tommy Hilfiger sportswear collection. #wwdnews
“Stranger Things” is getting a new cast member for season 2. Meet @sadiesink_, the 15-year-old who will be joining the Netflix series for its new season. You may recognize her from “The Glass Castle” with Brie Larson and Woody Harrelson, but the Texas native’s next role goes in an entirely different direction. She describes her character, Max, as “a rough and tumble skater girl [who] becomes friends with the boys at school.” The second season debuts on October 27. (📷: @jgreenery) #wwdeye
Amid the Harvey Weinstein controversy, there’s another sector that’s being put under the spotlight for sexual abuse: the modeling industry. While rumors about abuse and sexual harassment of female and male models — and the photographers, agents and others who perpetrated it — have circulated within the fashion world for years, model @cameronrussell started posting stories from models on Instagram last week about abusive situations they’ve encountered — from sexual harassment and molestation to attempted rape. Over 75 have weighed in so far. Read more on WWD.com. Link in bio. #wwdnews
To celebrate its 16th anniversary, @dylanscandybar tapped designers and celebrities to create mosaics out of candy. The mosaics will be auctioned off to support the philanthropic cause of each participant’s choice. Pictured here is the mural created by @aliceandolivia's Stacey Bendet. For a first look at some of the other artwork being unveiled tonight, go to WWD.com. #wwdeye
The annual Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic in Pacific Palisades this weekend drew Kate Hudson, Tracee Ellis Ross, Laura Dern and more. See pictures of the star-studded event on WWD.com. (📷: @chelsealaurenla) #wwdeye
In his new book “Hollywood Royale,” Andy Warhol’s Protégé Matthew Rolston celebrates the Eighties revival of Hollywood glamour. Featuring more than 100 portraits taken by Rolston from 1977 to 1993, the book contains photos of icons like Michael Jackson, Cyndi Lauper, and @drewbarrymore, pictured here in 1991. “Hollywood Royale,” out today, will be accompanied by an exhibition opening at Los Angeles’ Fahey/Klein Gallery on March 1. #wwdeye