WWD.com/business-news/financial/europes-markets-dip-7638407/
government-trade
government-trade

Retail Stocks Log Worst Week of Year

S&P 500 Retailing Industry Group off 1.5 percent for 4 percent weekly decline.

Retail shares ended their worst week of 2014 with a 1.5 percent decline today, with J.C. Penney Co. Inc.’s 9.6 percent contraction among the market’s weakest performers.

One day after a 3 percent decline marked its worst single day of the year, the S&P 500 Retailing Industry Group struggled back from steeper losses in morning trading but still closed off at 847.72, leaving it 4 percent below last Friday’s close and 9.8 percent below its final mark of 939.81 at the end of 2013.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 fared considerably better with respective declines on the day of 0.9 percent, to 16,026.75, and 1 percent, to 1,815.69.

The Dow was off 2.4 percent for the week and is off 3.3 percent for the year to date, while the S&P declined 2.7 percent and sits 1.8 percent below its year-end mark of 2013.

While stocks weren’t moved by particularly disturbing news on the retail front, investors appeared to be absorbing the messages delivered Thursday, when the majority of a small sample of retailers reported declines in same-store sales last month and Family Dollar disclosed plans to close about 370 stores following weak sales.

Coldwater Creek Inc. saw its shares sag 31.6 percent to 13 cents after it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and said it would liquidate its operations with little prospect of any recovery for equity holders.

Without the fuse of news, shares of Penney sagged 9.6 percent to $7.70, their sharpest decline since a 10.6 percent drop on Feb. 4, when the company provided an update on fourth-quarter performance that implied a decelerating sales trend in the weeks after Christmas.

Other retailers struggling for improvement in recent trends also registered sharp declines, including Aéropostale Inc., down 5.7 percent to $4.62; Sears Holdings Corp., 5.2 percent to $32.62 and Delia’s Inc., 5 percent to 76 cents.

Lands’ End Inc., spun off from Sears earlier in the week, was among a half-dozen equities tracked by WWD to manage gains, albeit a 0.1 percent increase to $26.01. Shares closed at $31.67 last Friday just prior to their official launch on the Nasdaq Monday.

The strongest performer in the WWD sample was Christopher & Banks Corp., up 1.6 percent to $6.30.

Europe’s major indices all continued on a downward slide to close the week with losses.

The DAX in Frankfurt fell the most, slipping 1.5 percent to 9,315.29, followed by the FTSE 100 in London, down 1.2 percent to 6,561.70. The CAC 40 in Paris and the FTSE MIB in Milan both ended  the day down 1.1 percent, to 4,365.86 and 21,198.79 respectively.

So far this year, the FTSE MIB is up 11.8 percent and the CAC 40 ahead 1.6 percent, while the DAX and FTSE 100 are down 2.5 and and 2.8 percent, respectively.

Sports Direct suffered one of the largest declines of the day, dropping 4.8 percent to 7.71 pounds.  The retailer continued to fall after its founder and executive deputy chairman Mike Ashley sold shares worth around 200 million pounds in the retailer earlier this week.
 
Other fashion and retail stocks in decline included a raft of online retailers: Boohoo.com, which slipped 5.1 percent to 51 pence; Asos.com, 3.2 percent to 43.76 pounds; Yoox, 2.4 percent to 24.59 euros, and Koovs, 1.7 percent to 1.77 pounds. Meanwhile, Next fell 2.1 percent to 64.05 pounds and French Connection fell 2.4 percent to 67 pence.

But a few stocks in the sector had increases by the end of the day. Burberry ended up 0.4 percent to 14.13 pounds, while Unilever’s shares listed in London rose 0.5 percent to 26.35 pounds, modest gains that still placed both stocks among London’s top five performers.

The pound traded for $1.68 against the U.S. dollar, while the euro went for $1.39.