By and  on February 6, 2012

Wall Street took a breather today and shares retreated as investors turned away from last week's strong reading on U.S. employment and focused once more on the woes of Greece.

The S&P Retail Index slid back from its historic high Friday, falling 0.5 percent, or 3.05 points, to 560.29. The index, which goes back to 2002, peaked at 563.80 Friday.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped 17.10 points to 12,845.13. Among the decliners were The Jones Group Inc., down 2.8 percent to $9.55; The Talbots, Inc., 1.5 percent to $3.25, and Chico's FAS Inc.,1.5 percent to $11.51.

Abercrombie & Fitch Co. swam against the tide, gaining 9.5 percent to $44.35. The company took a beating last week when it said lower-than-expected sales and higher markdowns would cut into its gross margins.

In Europe, Paris' CAC 40 fell 0.7 percent to 3,405.27, followed by the FTSE MIB in Milan, which sank 0.3 percent to 6,764.83. The FTSE 100 in London dipped 0.2 percent to 5,892.20 while the DAX in Frankfurt fared the best, edging down just 0.03 percent to 6,764.83.

The region’s markets closed amid a backdrop of gloomy Euro zone news, including the delay of Greece’s bailout talks, which are crucial to secure the ailing country’s funding; a report that the Euro zone crisis could damage Chinese growth this year, and that bank lending in the U.K. is set to shrink in 2012.

Later in the day, Greece said it would cut 15,000 state jobs as it tries to push through reforms that will make it eligible for another round of bailout funds.

Fashion and retail stocks in the region were mostly down with the day’s biggest losers including French Connection, which plummeted 12.1 percent to 0.51 following a profit warning Friday. Metro fell 2.4 percent to 30.02 euros, while Burberry edged down 1 percent to 14.46 pounds. Inditex also took a hit, tumbling 1.1 percent to 67.45, while Italian eyewear maker Marcolin slid 1.5 percent to 3.84 euros.

Among the few stocks on the upswing were Ferragamo, which climbed 1.7 percent to 13.48 euros; Marks & Spencer Group, which rose 1.4 percent to 3.45 pounds; and Aeffe, which bounced 2.8 percent to 0.70 euros.

The euro traded at $1.31 while the pound traded at $1.58.

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