A weaker than expected reading on private payrolls last month weighed on Wall Street today, but retail stocks continued to chug along, closing at a new all-time high.
The S&P Retail Index rose 0.9 percent, or 5.90 points, to 655.72, as the Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped 10.75 points to 13,268.57.
In a positive sign for the retail deal-making environment, shares of Ascena Retail Group Inc. rose 10.4 percent to $21.06 after the company inked a deal to acquire Charming Shoppes Inc. for $7.35 a share. It's not uncommon for a company taking on the challenges of an acquisition to see its stock drop on the news. Charming Shoppes' shares increased 23.9 percent to $7.31.
So far this year, there have been 62 deals announced in the apparel and footwear retail sector globally, carrying a total value of $3.66 billion, according to Dealogic. That's about the same number of deals seen at this time last year, but just over twice the value.
Also gaining ground was American Eagle Outfitters, which boosted first-quarter earnings guidance to 18 cents to 20 cents a diluted share, up from the 8 cents to 10 cents previously projected. The stock jumped 16.8 percent to $20.90.
Outside of retail, the mood wasn't so cheery.
The ADP National Employment Report showed U.S. nonfarm private payrolls rose 119,000 in April from March, well below the 180,000 gain economists expected.
"While April’s increase was the 27th consecutive monthly advance, it nonetheless reflected a deceleration in the recent pace of hiring," said Joel Prakken, chairman of Macroeconomic Advisers. "This deceleration seems consistent with other incoming data, including a disappointingly weak report on first-quarter gross domestic product, a recent back-up in initial unemployment claims, and last month’s relatively weak reading on establishment employment reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics."
In Europe, markets were mixed as unemployment in the euro zone hit a record high and construction growth in the U.K. slowed.
The FTSE MIB in Milan logged the sharpest drop, falling 2.6 percent to 14,213.17, followed by the FTSE 100, which tumbled 0.9 percent to 5,758.11. The DAX in Frankfurt sank 0.8 percent to 6,710.77.
The only market that closed on an upswing was the CAC 40 in Paris, which was up 0.4 percent to 3,226.33.
The biggest gainers included Burberry Group, up 2.2 percent to 15.15 pounds; Luxottica Group, 3.1 percent to 27.88 euros; Mulberry Group, 2.4 percent to 24.17 pounds; and LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, 2.6 percent to 128.40 euros.
Losing ground were Ferragamo, which sank 6.6 percent to 17.25 euros; Geox, 3 percent to 2.36 euros, and Milan Bourse newcomer, Brunello Cucinelli, which after debuting with a bang on Friday, dropped 3.9 percent to close at 11.53 euros.
The euro traded at $1.32, while the pound traded at $1.62.
Unemployment in the Euro zone reached a record high in March of 10.9 percent, according to Eurostat, Europe’s statistics office. More than 3 million of the 17.4 million people looking for work are under the age of 25.
In the UK, the Markit/CIPS construction purchasing managers index fell to 55.8, signaling a slowdown in growth in April compared with march. The index measures activity in the construction sector, and the slowdown helped to nudge the U.K. back into recession last month.
For its next men’s wear collection, @roberto_cavalli will show as a special guest at #PittiUomo, running from June 12-15. The brand, which has Florence in its roots, will relaunch its men’s wear collection, which will be presented separately from women’s wear for the first time since Paul Surridge was appointed creative director in May. #wwdnews #wwdfashion (📷: @aitorrosasphoto)
“I was making the guacamole when my scout saw me,” says model @stuckinteenage on being discovered just six months ago while working at @chipotlemexicangrill. Since then Williams has signed with @dnamodels, walked in her first show at @calvinklein and landed on the cover of @vogueitalia – a high point of any model’s career. To read @lisajlockwood’s full interview with the model on her experiences thus far, head to WWD.com – link in bio. (📷: George Chinsee)
“I love the idea of dialogue, period. It’s where I’ve always gotten my inspiration from: hearing other women speak, their journeys and their paths,” said @hereisgina, who delivered the keynote speech at the @sxsw conference for @createcultivate, the online platform and conference series for women. For her two panels, Rodriguez chose female empowering, female-led and female entrepreneurs to focus on. Head to WWD.com to read more about her thoughts on Time’s Up, growing up in a family of women and why we “need a girls’ club.” #wwdeye #sxsw (📷: @jgreenery)
Leading luxury brand are shaking things up to keep up with streetwear. Case in point: the arrival of @mrkimjones as artistic director of @diorhomme. Jones, who succeeds @Kris_Van_Assche, is seen as one of the handful of designers who can actually straddle the luxury and streetwear worlds — which could lead to even more changes at established brands. What could this mean for the rest of the menswear landscape? Head to WWD.com to find out what experts predict #wwdfashion (📷: @franckmura)
“It’s like buying groceries. You’re going to buy the best mango, the best mozzarella, the best things. You have to, or others are going to take it all,” said @gabrielahearst on why she uses only the finest fabrics. Last week, Hearst received her first @cfda nomination for Womenswear Designer of the Year, and earlier this month she opened a permanent showroom in Paris. To read @jessiredale’s interview with the designer and find out why this is shaping up to be a big year for her, head to WWD.com. #wwdfashion (📷: @francoisgoize)
“It’s an interesting thing, playing a younger version of your mother. It’s an interesting concept. I adore my mom and love her in every capacity, but it was just something that had never crossed my mind,” says @anniemstarke on playing a young Joan Castleman in “The Wife.” The same role will be played by her mother Glenn Close. Read more about her growing up in the film industry as the daughter of producer John H. Starke and Close and what she has planned for the future #wwdeye (📷: @nataliamantini)
@asics is launching a new streetwear sneaker inspired by its latest ambassador, @steveaoki. The Hyper-Kenzen x Aoki, which will launch at @footlocker stores exclusively tomorrow, is a slip-on style that incorporates the brand’s proprietary Gel technology through beads integrated into the midsole for comfort and endurance. Read the full story on WWD.com.