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Retail Stocks Snap Winning Streak

Sector falls after 10 straight gains.

Retail stocks snapped a 10 trading session winning streak today as the sector fell from its all-time high.


The S&P 500 Retailing Industry Group slipped 1.1 percent, or 8.37 points, to 785.83, as the Dow Jones Industrial Average declined 0.3 percent, or 42.47 points, to 15,233.22.


The fashion-sector decliners included Zale Corp., down 8.6 percent to $5.10; VF Corp., 2.2 percent to $181.51; G-III Apparel Group, 2.3 percent to $41.60, and Nike Inc., 2.1 percent to $64.44.


Wal-Mart Stores Inc.’s stock fell 1.7 percent to $78.50 after the retail giant’s first-quarter net profits rose 1.1 percent to $3.78 billion and revenues inched up 1 percent to $114.19 billion.


Mike Duke, Wal-Mart’s president and chief executive officer, told investors the company had a “more difficult quarter than expected.”


“It’s important to note that Wal-Mart U.S. continued to gain market share across several key categories,” Duke said. “Sales were pressured, primarily by delayed tax refunds, which caused customers to put off discretionary purchases. And though no one likes to talk about weather, it was a real factor across the United States.”


Bucking the downward trend in retail was Kohl’s Corp., which gained 4.7 percent to $52.03 after the company said first-quarter profits didn’t fall as sharply as expected. Investors, however, voted at the company’s annual meeting for a proposal that would require its next chairman to be an independent director.


Sentiment on Wall Street was hurt by unfavorable readings on the economy, showing more people than expected filed for first-time jobless claims last week and that April housing starts were weaker than projected. 


Europe’s markets showed mixed results at the close of trading Thursday. The FTSE MIB in Milan was up 0.3 percent to 17,544.01, while the DAX in Frankfurt grew by 0.1 percent to 8,369.87. Paris’ CAC 40 and the FTSE 100 both dipped 0.1 percent, to 3,979.07 and 6,687.80, respectively, following the disappointing economic data in the U.S. and a European Commission probe into alleged oil-price fixing.


The pound traded at $1.51 against the dollar, as the euro went for $1.31 and the Swiss franc fetched $1.07.
Retail and luxury stocks were mostly on the rise, with the day’s biggest gainers including Mulberry, up 2.9 percent to 9.35 pounds; Ferragamo, 2.5 percent to 24.78 euros; and PPR, 1.4 percent to 175.45 euros. Compagnie Financière Richemont advanced 7.6 percent after it posted a full-year net profit gain of 30.2 percent to 2.01 billion euros, or $2.59 billion, and a double-digit sales increase.


Among the stocks losing ground were Inditex, down 2.6 percent to 102.80, and Geox, which dropped 4.9 percent to 2.28 euros.