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Retail Stocks Hold Steady

Sector flat in a down day for the market.

Retail stocks held steady today as investors looked for direction.

The S&P 500 Retailing Industry Group dipped a modest 0.20 points to 745.35, as the Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped 0.3 percent, or 43.16 points, to 14,676.30. Both retail stocks and the Dow have hit new highs over the past two weeks.

Markets have been generally supported by ultra-low interest rates in the U.S., but the economy is still seen on somewhat shaky ground with a mixed outlook.

The day’s decliners included The Procter & Gamble Co., which fell 5.9 percent to $77.12 after the consumer product company’s second-quarter profit outlook fell short of analysts’ projections; Estée Lauder Companies Inc., down 2.2 percent to $68.82; J.C. Penney Co. Inc., 1.6 percent to $15.20; Wal-Mart Stores Inc., 1.3 percent to$78.03, and Michael Kors Holdings Ltd., 1.1 percent to $53.52.

In Europe, stock markets made gains at the close amid rumors that the European Central Bank might cut interest rates.

Reuters, citing unnamed sources, said the central bank could cut its benchmark interest rate by a quarter of a point at its policy meeting next Thursday. The rate currently stands at 0.75 percent. A lower rate would make it easier to borrow money and, in theory, help stimulate an economic recovery. Lower rates also encourage investors to put more money into stocks.

The CAC 40 in Paris was up 1.6 percent to 3,842.94; the DAX in Frankfurt 1.3 percent to 7,759.03; while the FTSE MIB in Milan and the FTSE 100 in London both edged up 0.4 percent to 16,563.43 and to 6,431.76 respectively.

The euro traded at $1.30 against the dollar while the pound fetched $1.53 and the Swiss franc went for $1.07.

Retail and luxury stocks were mostly on the uptick, with the day’s biggest gainers including Carrefour, which advanced 2 percent to 22.40 euros; Kering, 2.9 percent to 177.55 euros following news that the company had purchased the Italian luxury jeweler Pomellato; LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, 2.5 percent to 128.20 euros; and the Swatch Group 2 percent to 93.80 Swiss francs.