Retail stocks declined for the seventh consecutive session, pulling back 0.4 percent as the major U.S. indices suffered smaller losses.
The S&P 500 Retailing Industry Group declined 3.92 points to 883.26, putting it 5 percent below its 929.86 on March 18, its last day of gains. Retail stocks are now down 6 percent for the year as investors adjust to the uncertain climate for retail sales that has been evident since Thanksgiving weekend.
The balance of sessions with advances versus those ending with declines for the retail index now stands at 28 and 31, respectively.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished at 16,264.23, less than 0.1 percent below its close Wednesday, while the S&P 500 was off 0.2 percent to 1,849.04.
The two largest gains among fashion, retail and beauty stocks tracked by WWD came from Signet Jewelers Ltd. and Lululemon Athletica Inc., both of which exceeded analysts’ expectations in earnings reports released Thursday morning. Signet rose 6.8 percent to $105.03 and Lululemon was up 6.2 percent to $51.20.
Among issues in decline, Cache Inc. was down 5.3 percent to $3.03, continuing a downward trajectory that has seen the stock surrender 42.5 percent of its value since closing at $5.27 on March 3. Shares of Quiksilver Inc. dropped 3.4 percent to $7.32 while Coldwater reek Inc. was off 2.9 percent to 66 cents.
In Europe, Milan’s FTSE MIB was up 0.3 percent to 21,173.90, while the DAX in Frankfurt rose less than 0.1 percent to 9,451.21. The FTSE 100 in London sank 0.3 percent to 6,588.32 while the CAC 40 in Paris was down 0.1 percent to 4,379.06.
Retail and luxury stocks took a battering, with the day’s biggest declines coming from companies including Ted Baker, 2.3 percent to 21.90 pounds; Next, 2.9 percent to 67.45 pounds; Burberry Group, 1.4 percent to 14.05 pounds; Hennes & Mauritz, 4.3 percent to 277.40 Swedish kroner, and Yoox.com, 2.8 percent to 25.51 euros.
H&M reported an 8 percent increase in net income, excluding financial items, for the first quarter ended Feb. 28, less than analysts had expected. The company said it is making investments in information technology and online retailing that cut into profits.
Among the few stocks that gained ground were Unilever, 1.5 percent to 29.40 euros, and Debenhams, 1.7 percent to 0.78 pounds.
The euro traded at $1.38 against the U.S. dollar while the pound fetched $1.65, the Swiss franc $1.13 and the Swedish krona 15 cents.