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U.S. Retail Stocks Drop 0.9%

Good news on jobs front not enough to excite investors.

U.S. retail stocks continued to lose ground today as an unexpected drop in first-time unemployment claims failed to overshadow looming economic concerns. The S&P 500 Retailing Industry Group fell 0.9 percent, or 5.67 points, to 646.15, as the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.1 percent, or 18.58 points, to 13,326.39.

 

The decliners included Ross Stores Inc., down 3.1 percent to $62.17; The TJX Cos. Inc., 2 percent to $43.88; Tilly’s Inc., 1.0 percent to $16.50, and Gap Inc., 0.8 percent to $36.34.

 

J.C. Penney Co. Inc. bucked the trend and jumped 8.4 percent to $26.18 after chief executive officer Ron Johnson sent an e-mail to customers offering them $10 toward a purchase as they checked out the firm’s new store layouts. Some investors saw this as something of a return to the coupon, which Johnson has eliminated from the chain. The company, however, characterized the incentive as a gift.

 

Initial jobless claims fell by 30,000 last week to 339,000, while economists expected an uptick of 1,000. The good news came against a backdrop of lower growth expectations for the global economy, with weak demand in advanced economies hurting exports in developing countries.

 

European investors took almost the exact opposite tack than their U.S. counterparts. Markets in the region rose despite downbeat economic news.

 

Unemployment in Greece hit a record 25 percent in July, with youth unemployment at 54 percent. In Germany, a clutch of economic think tanks said the country’s economy would only grow 1 percent next year, compared with a projection of 2 percent six months ago.

 

The CAC 40 in Paris gained 1.4 percent to 3,413.72, while the FTSE MIB in Milan advanced 1.3 percent to 15,634.45. The DAX in Frankfurt was up 1.1 percent to 7,281.70 and FTSE 100 in London rose 0.9 percent to 5,829.75.

 

The day’s biggest gainers included Burberry Group, which advanced 13.3 percent to 11.36 pounds following news that its same-store sales gained some momentum later in the second quarter.

 

The good news at Burberry gave other luxury stocks a bump with Mulberry Group rising 4.5 percent to 12.70 pounds; LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton climbing 3.8 percent to 122.95 euros, and Compagnie Financiere Richemont advancing 4.5 percent to 59.90 Swiss francs.

 

The euro traded at $1.29 versus the dollar while the pound traded at $1.60 and the Swiss franc traded at $1.06.