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Retail Stocks Retreat 0.8%

Major U.S. indices flat while European markets log strong advances.

U.S. retailers took a pause in their nearly annual “Santa Claus Rally” today as concerns about cyber security and parcel shipping weighed on the markets.

The S&P 500 Retailing Industry Group fell 0.8 percent to 934.18 after rising on the days just before and after Christmas. The Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 each declined less than 0.1 percent to 16,478.41 and 1,841.40, respectively. The Dow’s descent ended a six-day string of gains.

The “Santa Claus Rally” derives its name from the tendency of U.S. equity markets to rise in the trading sessions just before and just after New Year’s Day.

In a retreat in the world of publicly held social media properties, Twitter Inc.’s shares fell 13 percent to $63.75 while Facebook shed 4 percent to $55.44. United Parcel Service Inc. shares were up 0.1 percent to $104.72 despite the public outcry about its failure to deliver many holiday gifts on time.

Among retailers, Target Corp. owned up to the theft of “strongly encrypted” PIN data and saw its shares drop 0.5 percent to $62.15 while Sears Holdings Corp.’s shares fell 1.7 percent to $46.16 and L Brands Inc.’s were down 1.6 percent to $60.87.

Men’s wear retailers The Men’s Wearhouse Inc. and Jos. A. Bank Clothiers Inc. were both off 1.2 percent to $51.25 and $55.55, respectively. Bank earlier in the week rejected its rival’s offer to acquire it for $1.54 billion, or $55 a share.

After the markets closed, Coldwater Creek Inc. said it had extended the term of Dennis Pence, its nonexecutive chairman, beyond its original Jan. 1 expiration date as it continues to explore strategic alternatives. Shares rose 10.8 percent to 75 cents prior to the announcement.

Also gaining ground were Birks Group Inc., up 3.8 percent to $1.36; Coty Inc., up 3.3 percent to $15.49 and Cache Inc., up 2.3 percent to $5.41.

Led by 1.4 percent increases by both the CAC 40 in Paris and the FTSE MIB in Milan, Europe’s indices all ended the week with gains. The CAC 40 closed at 4,277.65 and the FTSE MIB at 18,956.52.

The DAX in Frankfurt rose 1.1 percent to 9,589.39, while the FTSE 100 in London rose 0.9 percent to 6,750.87.

Fashion, luxury and retail stocks generally spent the day in positive territory. Among those that rose the most were Hermès, which gained 4.9 percent to 263.10 euros; Luxottica, up 2.5 percent to 38.72 euros; Burberry, which rose 2.1 percent to 14.96 pounds, and Kering, which finished up 1.9 percent to 152.90 euros.

The only European and Asian stocks monitored by WWD that fell in the day’s trading were French Connection, which dipped 6.2 percent to 34 pence, and Esprit, down 1.4 percent to 15.02 Hong Kong dollars.

The pound traded for $1.64 Friday, while the euro went for $1.37 and the Hong Kong dollar for 13 cents.