Stocks Calm After Euro Storm

Wall Street flat as investors begin to adjust to the new politics after French, Greek elections.

Markets were relatively calm with mostly modest gains today after three days of volatility fed by the unhappy mixture of political upheaval in France and Greece and a weakening economy in Europe.


On Wall Street, the S&P Retail Index inched up 0.1 percent, or 0.55 points, to 627.16, as the Dow Jones Industrial Average snapped a six-day losing streak and gained 19.98 points to close at 12,855.05.


The gainers included market newcomer Tilly’s Inc., which rose 3.3 percent to $17.40; Liz Claiborne Inc., 2.3 percent to $13.64, and The Men’s Wearhouse Inc., 2 percent to $36.62.


Headed the other way was Avon Products Inc. Investors had pumped the stock up in anticipation of a new takeover offer from Coty Inc. and when it came, at $24.75 a share, the stock slipped 3.3 percent to $20.89. Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. is one of Coty’s backers in the latest proposal.


In Europe, the FTSE MIB in Milan jumped 1.7 percent to 14,004.94, while the DAX in Frankfurt was up 0.7 percent to 6,518.00. The CAC 40 in Paris advanced 0.4 percent to 3,130.17, while the FTSE 100 in London was up 0.3 percent to 5,543.95.


The region’s biggest gainers included Asos.com, which climbed 6.4 percent to 15.70 pounds; Ferragamo, 2.9 percent to 17.24 euros, and Mulberry Group, 2.6 percent to 23.25 pounds.


Losing ground were Geox, which sank 12.2 percent to 2 euros following a 4.3 percent drop in first-quarter net profit due to weaker European sales, and Burberry Group, down 1.4 percent to 14.41 pounds.


The euro traded at $1.30 while the pound went for $1.61.


In the U.K., the Bank of England held interest rates at a record low of 0.5 percent and said it would not extend its quantitative easing program even as the economy there slips back into recession. U.K. manufacturing output rose by 0.9 percent after a fall of 1.1 percent in February.


The Bank of France projected France’s economy would not grow at all for the first six months of the year, compared with expansion of 0.2 percent in the fourth quarter.