U.S. retail stocks closed out the week with small declines as wintry weather limited both volume on Wall Street and commercial activity throughout much of the Northeast.
The S&P 500 Retailing Industry Group spent much of the day in positive territory but finished down 0.2 percent at 934.76. The Dow Jones Industrial Average eked out a 0.2 percent gain to 16,469.99, while the S&P 500 was off less than 0.1 percent to 1,831.37.
While retailers wondered whether the storm that barreled into the Northeast on Thursday night would limit clearance selling over the weekend, investors weighed the words of outgoing Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke, who said that the Fed’s tapering of its bond-buying program didn’t signal a retreat from economic stimulus.
Shares of Rite Aid Corp. shot up 8.5 percent to $5.47 after it reported a 2.9 percent increase in its same-store sales for December. Shares of American Apparel Inc. picked up 6.7 percent to $1.27, while Pacific Sunwear of California Inc. enjoyed a 5.8 percent gain to close the trading day at $3.64.
On the opposite end of the ledger, Christopher & Banks Corp. shares were off 7.8 percent to $7.88 and Zale Corp., up strongly in several recent sessions, shed 4.6 percent to $15.40. Vince Holding Corp. shares were down 2.1 percent, to $29.32, following the company’s disclosure of third-quarter results, covering a period just before its initial public offering, that were generally consistent with or slightly better than analysts’ expectations.
Europe’s indices all ended the week on an up note.
The FTSE MIB in Milan gained the most, rising 1 percent to 19,112.65, while the CAC 40 in Paris closed up 0.5 percent to 4,247.65. The DAX in Frankfurt was up 0.4 percent to 9,435.15, while the FTSE 100 in London rose 0.2 percent to 6,730.67.
Retailers continued to lead the increases in London. Robust holiday trading figures from Next made the retailer the top performer in the FTSE 100 Friday, with its shares rising 11.7 percent to 60.85 pounds. Next reported that sales in the period from Nov. 1 to Dec. 24 rose 11.9 percent compared to the same period last year. The retailer also raised its pretax profit forecast for the year ending Jan. 25 to between 684 million and 700 million pounds, or $1.13 billion to $1.16 billion.
That news sent shares of other British retailers up by the close of trading. Asos.com gained 3.5 percent to 67.05 pounds, while Marks & Spencer rose 2 percent to 4.35 pounds. Even Debenhams, which had issued a profit warning earlier in the week, rose 3.9 percent to 78 pence.
Among the few European fashion stocks that lost ground Friday were Prada, which fell 1.2 percent to 68.80 Hong Kong dollars; LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, down 0.2 percent to 131 euros, and Kering, which slipped 0.4 percent to 153.20 euros.
The pound traded at $1.65 against the U.S. dollar, while the euro traded for $1.37 and the Hong Kong dollar for 13 cents.
Alberta Ferretti's "Rainbow Week" sweaters are back. The designer closed her #MFW show with a few day-of-the-week sweaters, which first debuted on the catwalk last January as part of the pre-fall 2017 collection. #wwdfashion (📷: @delphineachard)