Stocks fell in both the U.S. and Europe today as investors warily watched the economy.
The S&P Retail Index fell 0.6 percent, or 3.86 points, to 621.21, as the Dow Jones Industrial Average sank back below 13,000, losing 0.5 percent, or 68.65 points, to end at 12,964.10.
Retail’s decliners included Vera Bradley Inc., down 2.9 percent to $27.61; Coldwater Creek Inc., 2.9 percent to $1.08, and J.C. Penney Company Inc., 1.1 percent to $34.24.
The Labor Department said first-time unemployment claims slipped by just 2,000 to 386,000 last week where economists expected claims to fall more sharply, to 370,000.
Employment gains in recent months have helped push retail stocks up, but Federal Reserve chairman Ben S. Bernanke has warned that the economy isn’t growing quickly enough to get the nation out of its job rut.
In Europe, stock markets were all in retreat.
The CAC 40 in Paris sank the most, down 2.1 percent to 3,174.02, followed by the FTSE MIB in Milan, down 2 percent to 14,287.27. The DAX in Frankfurt dipped 0.9 percent to 6,671.22 while the FTSE 100 in London just slipped into negative territory, down 0.01 percent to 5,744.55.
While there was strong demand for Spain’s ten-year and two-year bonds at auction, the yield on Spain’s ten-year bonds rose to 5.7 percent, indicating investors are still worried about the country’s economy. There were also murmurs that France could be facing a credit downgrade.
Almost all fashion, luxury and retail stocks fell. The biggest decliners included PPR, down 1.9 percent to 120.05 euros; L’Oreal, 2.2 percent to 91.74 euros; LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, 2.5 percent to 123.10 euros, and Carrefour, 2.3 percent to 15.40 euros.
The few bright spots included Beiersdorf, up 2.5 percent to 51.61 euros; Mulberry, which shot up 4.3 percent to 22.89 pounds, and Hermès, up 0.9 percent to 256 euros.
The pound traded for $1.60 Thursday, while the euro traded for $1.31.