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Retail Stocks Eke Out Gain

Kors up on earnings strength as Penney slides on comp disappointment.

Retail shares managed to post a small gain today, logging only their seventh positive trading session for the year.

After two-straight sessions with losses of more than 2.5 percent, the S&P 500 Retailing Industry Group finished up 0.3 percent to 848.09. However, it lagged behind the S&P 500 and Dow Jones Industrial Average, which reversed recent losses with gains of 0.8 percent and 0.5 percent, respectively, to close at 1,755.20 and 15,445.24.

Michael Kors Holdings Ltd. led the pack among the day’s fashion winners, gaining 17.3 percent to close at $89.91 after reporting third-quarter net income that exceeded analysts’ expectations by 25 cents a diluted share.

On the other side of the ledger, J.C. Penney Co. Inc. closed off 10.6 percent at $5.08 and hit a 52-week low of $4.90 in midday trading after reporting a 2 percent gain in fourth-quarter comparable-store sales that suggested its comps in December and January had actually declined.

Fossil Group Inc. rebounded after a 3.4 percent decline Monday with a 6.1 percent increase to $114.57, while Tumi Holdings Inc. joined the accessories gainers for the day with a 2.8 percent increase to $20.

Joining J.C. Penney among equities losing large chunks of value were Coldwater Creek Inc., down 17.6 percent to 70 cents, and American Apparel Inc., off 13.5 percent to 85 cents.

While reticence about emerging markets, China’s economy and U.S. corporate earnings lingered from the sell-offs of recent days, investors took advantage of stocks that have been driven down in price since the start of the year. The S&P 500 is 5 percent off its endpoint in 2013 and the retail index down 9.8 percent.

Europe’s stocks put on a mixed performance, with markets in London and Frankfurt down and those in Paris and Milan ahead.

The DAX in Frankfurt shed 0.6 percent to 9,127.91, while London’s FTSE 100 dipped 0.2 percent to 6,455.61. In contrast, the FTSE MIB in Milan managed to gain 0.6 percent to 19,019.71 while the CAC 40 in Paris closed up 0.2 percent to 4,117.45.

The decliners included Esprit, down 3.8 percent to 14.08 Hong Kong dollars; Gemfields, off 5.6 percent to 34 pence; Luxottica, down 1.7 percent to 38.39 euros, and Safilo Group, off 1.7 percent to 16.55 euros.

Those on the rise included Yoox, which climbed 6.6 percent to 29.78 euros; Ferragamo, which rose 1.6 percent to 22.44 euros, and Burberry, up 2 percent to 14.35 pounds.

The pound traded for $1.64 versus the U.S. dollar, while the euro went for $1.35 and the Hong Kong dollar for 13 cents.