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Retail Stocks Surrender 2.9%

Concern about first-quarter earnings puts investors on edge.

Anxiety about corporate earnings sent major indices on both sides of the Atlantic down today, with retail stocks taking a particularly hard hit.

Retail stocks marked their second worst day of the year as the S&P 500 Retailing Industry Group dropped 2.9 percent to 854.86, approaching the 3 percent dropoff suffered on April 10. That erased gains earlier in the week, leaving the index down 1.5 percent for the week and off 9 percent for the year.

Declines were less severe for the Dow Jones Industrial Average which, at 16,361.46, was off 0.9 percent for the day and 0.3 percent for the week, and the S&P 500, down 0.8 percent to 1,863.40 to drop it just below breakeven for the week with a decline of less than 0.1 percent.

For the year, the Dow is off 1.3 percent while the S&P 500 is holding onto a 0.8 percent gain.

Among the dozen U.S.-based fashion, retail and beauty stocks in the “plus” column for the day were Hanesbrands Inc., up 4.7 percent to $78.94, and VF Corp., up 2.2 percent to $61.44. Both firms reported better-than-expected first-quarter earnings and raised full-year guidance, with Hanesbrands reporting late Thursday and VF early Friday.

Shares of The Wet Seal Inc. had the largest percentage increase for the day among equities tracked by WWD. The stock rose 5 percent to $1.25 after the firm said it would shutter its Arden B division and focus on its Wet Seal nameplate.

Declines were more numerous and larger. Delta Apparel Inc. shares shed 11.9 percent to $14.74 after it reported a second-quarter loss.

Investors in new technology also companies saw their investments pared. Amazon.com Inc. and Twitter Inc. sold off 9.9 and 7.2 percent, respectively, to $303.83 and $41.61, while Facebook Inc. was off 5.2 percent to $10.97.

In Europe, stock markets were down for the day but yielded mixed results for the week.

Milan’s FTSE MIB sank 1.7 percent to 21,441.57, followed by the DAX in Frankfurt, which fell 1.5 percent to 9,401.55. The CAC 40 in Paris dipped 0.8 percent to 4,443.63 while the FTSE 100 in London was down 0.3 percent to 6,685.69.

For the week, the FTSE 100 was up 0.9 percent and the CAC 400 up 0.3 percent. The FTSE MIB contracted 0.8 percent and the DAX 0.1 percent. On a year-to-date basis, the FTSE MIB remains up 13 percent and the CAC 40 ahead 3.4 percent, while the DAX is down 1.6 percent and the FTSE 100 off 0.9 percent.

Retail and luxury stocks were mostly down, with a few exceptions. Kering advanced 3.7 percent to 159 euros following the news Thursday that it was re-jigging its management team, while Mulberry Group was up 3.1 percent to 7.25 pounds, and Safilo Group rose 1.2 percent to 15.53 euros.

Among the stocks that lost the most ground were Asos.com, down 2.4 percent to 44.24 pounds; Metro AG, 2.4 percent to 28.15 euros; Koovs, 3.3 percent to 1.75 pounds, and Yoox Group, 3.8 percent to 25.34 euros.

Against the U.S. dollar, the euro traded at $1.38, while the pound fetched $1.68 and the Swiss franc was quoted at $1.13.