Weak home sales were enough to drag down Wall Street today, but U.S. retail stocks continued to hit new highs.
The S&P Retail Index rose 0.5 percent, or 2.77 points, to 616.40 — the best close on record. U.S. retail stocks, which are up 17.8 percent so far this year, have been gaining on hopes thatconsumer spending will continue to strengthen along with the job market.
Winning retailers included Macy's Inc., which rose 1.9 percent to $40.47 after the retailer laid out a plan to cater to younger shoppers; Limited Brands Inc., 1.9 percent to $48.14; Quiksilver, Inc., 1.8 percent to $4.49, and Lululemon Athletica Inc., up 1.6 percent to $74.07 ahead of its quarterly earnings report Thursday.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped 0.4 percent, or 45.57 points, to 13,124.62 with the housing market coming to the fore.
Existing-home sales in the U.S. fell 0.9 percent in February to an annual rate of 4.59 million, down from an upwardly revised 4.63 million in January, according to the National Association of Realtors.
Across the Atlantic, London's FTSE 100 edged up 0.01 percent to close at 5,891.95 after UK Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne unveiled a decidedly pro-business budget for 2012.Osborne slashed the controversial 50 percent tax rate for high earners to 45 percent, raised the minimum threshold at which taxes kick in, and said the corporation tax would fall progressively to 22 percent from 26 percent by 2014.
He also said that UK borrowing would be 1 billion pounds less than had been forecast in the fall, and that the economy would grow 0.8 percent in 2012, compared with the 0.7 percent originally projected.
By 2014, the UK economy is expected to grow by 2.7 percent. That figure will rise to 3 percent in 2015 and 2016.
Frankfurt's DAX also rose, gaining 0.2 percent to 7,071.32.
But the CAC 40 in Paris fell 0.1 percent to 3,527.37, while the FTSE MIB in Milan sank 1.3 percent to 16,734.75.
Luxury and retail stocks were on the upswing, with many of the day’s biggest gainers in the UK.They included Marks & Spencer Group, which rose 2.5 percent to 3.90 pounds; Mulberry Group, 1.8 percent to 19.53 pounds, and Asos.com, which advanced 1.4 percent to 17.65 pounds.
PPR, which named Jochen Zeitz to its board of directors, rose 1.6 percent to 134.50 euros, while Tod’s climbed 1 percent to 84.32 euros.
The euro traded at $1.32, while the pound traded at $1.59.
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
"Nowadays when life is not so happy with everything going on in the world, I think people come to me for a little bit of whimsy and color and fun." - Designer Rebecca De Ravenel on her cult-favorite jewelry line. (📸 : @vsteves) #wwd40
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25-year-old @samweaving is about to break out this fall, starring in Netflix’s horror film “The Babysitter,” fittingly out today on Friday the 13th. That’s not the only place you’ll be seeing her, though — Weaving’s got a role Showtime’s “SMILF” and another alongside Frances McDormand and Woody Harrelson in “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.” Though she’s got a full plate at the moment, there’s one role she’s got her eye on: Marilyn Monroe. “I’m a little too young at the moment, but it’s on my bucket list,” the actress told WWD (📷: @dandoperalski) #wwdeye
BFF's Poppy Jamie and Suki Waterhouse celebrated the launch of their bag line Pop x Suki at Nordstrom last night. "The line is really about our friendship, and how we are so different but complement each other," said Waterhouse. 👯 (📷: Katie Jones) #wwdeye
After designing the new @louisvuitton and @bulgariofficial flagships and a @chanelofficial boutique opening in Japan, @petermarinoarchitect has another project on his plate: The Lobster Club. Located in the Seagram Building, it’s the famed architect’s first restaurant project in New York, serving up modern Japanese brasserie-style cuisine. Bronze hues, bespoke material detailing, blush and chartreuse tones and a heavy emphasis on Picasso can be seen throughout. Mark your calendars for Nov. 1 for the much-anticipated opening. (📷: @clint_spaulding) #wwdeye