Retail Shares Tick Upward to End Month

Avon pulls back nearly 22 percent as Hanesbrands leads apparel group.

U.S. retail shares eked out small gains Thursday as the major indices logged declines.

The S&P 500 Retailing Industry Group closed at 894.63, up 0.1 percent, ahead of the S&P 500’s 0.4 percent drop to 1,756.54. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down slightly more, off 0.5 percent to 15,545.75. Still, the S&P finished ahead 4.5 percent during October versus the Dow’s monthly advance of 2.8 percent.

Among issues tracked by WWD, Avon Products Inc. suffered the greatest sell-off by far, with shares contracting 21.9 percent to $17.50 after the firm reported a net loss and lower revenues for the third quarter. Complicating matters, it disclosed that it could wind up paying significantly more than the $12 million it offered in June to resolve its potential violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. That offer was rejected by the Department of Justice and Securities and Exchange Commission, Avon said.

Shares of the Estée Lauder Cos. Inc. fell 0.6 percent to $70.96. The company reported first-quarter profits rose modestly but exceeded analysts’ expectations.

On the other end of the stock spectrum, shares of Hanesbrands Inc. were up 6.9 percent, to $68.12 following the company’s report late Wednesday of better-than-expected third-quarter profits and increases in its guidance for the current fiscal year and 2014.

Earlier in the day, Europe’s markets closed mostly up. The European Union statistics office in Luxembourg said in a preliminary estimate that the region’s inflation slowed to the lowest level in almost four years in October. The annual rate fell to 0.7 percent, the least since November 2009, from 1.1 percent in September.

The DAX in Frankfurt was up 0.3 percent to 9,033.92, Paris’ CAC 40 increased 0.6 percent to 4,299.90 and the FTSE MIB in Milan rose 0.1 percent to 19,351.52. The FTSE 100 in London dipped 0.7 percent to 6,731.43.

The euro traded at $1.37 against the dollar and the pound was worth $1.60.