U.S. retail shares were unable to break out of negative territory as Wall Street’s major indices logged solid gains today.
The S&P 500 Retailing Industry Group fell less than 0.1 percent to 922.06 as the Dow Jones Industrial Average picked up 0.7 percent to 16,331.05 and the S&P 500 finished with a 0.6 percent increase at 1,872.01.
Investors shrugged off concerns about the vitality of China’s economy and word Wednesday of continuing reductions in bond buying by the Federal Reserve. Instead, they focused on a 0.5 percent gain in The Conference Board’s tally of leading economic indicators and, courtesy of the Fed, expanded manufacturing activity in the Philadelphia area.
Burlington Stores Inc. led apparel, retail and beauty stocks tracked by WWD with a 15.8 percent increase in its shares, to $29.99, following a solid fourth-quarter earnings beat reported Thursday morning. Cato Corp. shares fell 12.9 percent to $26.21 after it reported a decline in fourth-quarter profits and forecast lower earnings for the first quarter.
“The company believes that 2014 could be another tough year,” the company said in its earnings report. “The sales environment may be difficult due to continuing slow job growth and higher costs which reduce our customers’ discretionary income.”
Shares of Guess Inc. were down 3.4 percent to $27.79 following the company’s guidance late Wednesday for a first-quarter loss. Fourth-quarter profits were down but ahead of analysts’ consensus estimates.
In Europe, markets were largely up at the close of trading.
The FTSE MIB in Milan led the increases, climbing 0.6 percent to 21,094.49, followed by the CAC 40 in Paris, up 0.5 percent to 4,327.91 and the DAX in Frankfurt, which gained 0.2 percent to 9,296.12. Only the FTSE 100 in London was down, falling 0.5 percent to 6,542.44.
Among the stock winners was Mulberry, which climbed 5.3 percent in London to 6.70 pounds following word that the brand’s chief executive officer Bruno Guillon had resigned. During the executive’s tenure, Mulberry had issued a number of profit warnings and had seen its stock price dip.
Next gained 2.3 percent to 67.30 pounds after it reported an 8.8 percent rise in its net profits, to 553.2 million pounds, or $867.9 million, for the year. Ted Baker also rose, up 1.5 percent to 22.38 pounds, after the U.K. retailer recorded a 34 percent surge in net profits in the year ended Jan. 31 to 28.9 million pounds, or $45.1 million.
Among the stocks that fell in were Geox, down 2.4 percent to 3.29 euros; French Connection, which slipped 1.7 percent to 58 pence, and Inditex, down 0.9 percent to 107.10 euros.
The pound traded for $1.65 against the U.S. dollar, while the euro changed hands for $1.36.