U.S. retail stocks turned up after a down day on Wednesday even as the fourth-quarter earnings season began with a decline from Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and, after market, Nordstrom.
The S&P 500 Retailing Industry advanced 0.5 percent to 894.99 on a day that was noteworthy more for declines than advances.
Shares of American Apparel Inc. shed nearly a third of their value, declining 32 percent to 66 cents, following a Wall Street Journal report that the Los Angeles-based vertical retailer had retained Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, its outside corporate counsel, to explore restructuring options.
Shares of J.C. Penney Co. Inc. slid 5.8 percent to $5.65 and Wal-Mart’s shares shed 1.8 percent after it reported a decline in fourth-quarter earnings and provided tepid guidance for the new year.
Among the firm’s gaining market capitalization on the day was Nordstrom Inc. Shares were up 1 percent to 59.44 in advance of the firm’s report of fourth-quarter profits that were lower but stronger than the consensus estimate of analysts. Shares fell 1.1 percent to $59.44 in the first hour of after-hours trading.
Among the biggest gainers on the day were Coty Inc., up 3.1 percent to $14.55, and Quiksilver Inc., up 2.9 percent to $7.50. Vince Holding Corp. and The Men’s Wearhouse Inc. both gained 2.6 percent, to $26.13 and $44.98, respectively.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 both gained 0.6 percent on the day to close at 16,133.23 and 1,839.78, respectively, brushing off a tepid morning session with afternoon gains.
Similarly, Europe’s markets were largely up at the close of trading after a negative start to the day.
The CAC 40 in Paris rose the most, climbing 0.3 percent to 4,355.49, followed by the FTSE 100 in London, up 0.2 percent to 6,812.99, while the FTSE MIB in Milan rose 0.1 percent to 20,452.28. Only the DAX in Frankfurt was down, falling 0.4 percent to 9,618.85.
It turned into a mixed day for fashion, luxury and retail stocks. Among the highest climbers were Aeffe, which rose 6.6 percent to 0.81 euros; Moncler, which gained 2.9 percent to 14.25 euros; Hennes & Mauritz, which rose 1.3 percent to 287.60 Swedish krona, and French Connection, up 2.8 percent to 55 pence.
Those in decline included Gemfields, which slipped 1.4 percent to 35 pence; Brunello Cucinelli, down 1.7 percent to 20.75 euros; Mulberry, which lost 2.1 percent to 6.63 pounds, and Ferragamo, down 1.2 percent to 23.07 euros.
The pound traded for $1.67 against the U.S. dollar, while the euro went for $1.38 and the Swedish krona for 15 cents.
Investors were buoyed by strong manufacturing data from the U.S., as Markit’s flash U.S. manufacturing purchasing managers’ index, released Thursday, stood at 56.7 in February, up from 53.7 in January, which Markit said marked the fastest overall improvement in U.S. manufacturing business conditions since May 2010.
Earlier in the day, weak data from China had sent Europe's markets down. HSBC’s Flash China manufacturing purchasing managers’ index, also released Thursday, stood at 48.3 in February, its lowest level in seven months.
A Stella McCartney sketch of a custom dress made from protein-based silk in partnership with biotech lab Bolt Threads. The dress will be displayed at The Museum of Modern Art's upcoming design exhibition, "Items: Is Fashion Modern?"