Retail shares ended a four-day winning streak with a 1 percent decline today.
The S&P 500 Retailing Industry Group gave back 8.65 points to end at 900.90, having fallen below the 900 mark earlier in the session.
The major indices held up better as the Dow Jones Industrial Average lost less than a point to end the day at 16,572.55 and the S&P 500 dropped 0.1 percent to close at 1,888.77. The tech-laden Nasdaq lost 0.9 percent to close at 4,237.74.
With the decline in the S&P retailing listing, the index now has split the 64 trading days of the year evenly, with 32 days of gains and an identical number of losses.
A larger-than-expected jump last week in applications for first-time unemployment benefits — to 326,000 from 310,000 in the prior week — may have produced some anxiety among investors as they waited for the March jobs report, expected from the Labor Department Friday.
Shares of Perry Ellis International Inc. gained 3.1 percent to $14.69 despite a net loss and a 16.4 percent decline in sales for the fourth quarter. The results were better than the Miami-based firm’s preliminary report on results on Feb. 24.
Gains were also registered by Express Inc., up 2 percent to $17.04, and Target Corp., up 1.4 percent to $61.72.
Among firms with decreases were Hudson’s Bay Co., off 5.1 percent to 17.86 Canadian dollars after providing guidance for 2014 profits that were below analysts’ views, and Under Armour Inc., off 5.2 percent to $112.66.
Most of Europe’s stock indices were in positive territory at the close of trading, with Milan’s FTSE MIB up 1.4 percent to 21,992.08. The CAC 40 in Paris rose 0.4 percent to 4,449.33 and the DAX in Frankfurt moved ahead 0.1 percent to 9,628.82.
London’s FTSE 100 lost 0.2 percent to 6,649.14.
Fashion, luxury and retail stocks with increases included Burberry, which was one of the FTSE 100’s best performers, rising 3 percent to 14.32 pounds. Online retailer Koovs, meanwhile, climbed 9.5 percent to 1.85 pounds, while Inditex was up 1.7 percent to 112.10 euros and Tod’s gained 1.3 percent to 96.30 euros.
Among the stocks in the sector that lost ground were Asos.com, which fell 3.3 percent to 50.12 pounds, after its disclosure Wednesday of a 21 percent fall in first-half net profits. Fellow online retailers Boohoo.com and Yoox also fell, down 2.6 percent to 55 pence and 2.3 percent to 24.25 euros, respectively.
The pound traded for $1.67 against the U.S. dollar, while the euro went for $1.37 and the Canadian dollar for 90 cents.