Concerns about a less than spectacular first-quarter retail earnings season — coupled with growing tensions in Ukraine and mixed earnings results elsewhere — sent retail stocks to their fifth worst session of 2014.
The S&P Retailing Industry Group declined 19.38 points, or 2.3 percent, to end the trading day at 843.10.
The larger market fared somewhat better, although hardly well, as the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.8 percent to 16,401.02 and the S&P 500 was off 0.9 percent to 1,867.72.
Among only a handful of fashion, retail and beauty stocks to see gains on the day was Vera Bradley Inc., up 2.3 percent to $29.69. Delia’s Inc. shares were up 1.5 percent while The Men’s Wearhouse Inc. rose 0.4 percent to $48.53.
Twitter Inc.’s value declined 17.8 percent, to $31.85, and in midday trading hit their lowest point since the company’s initial public offering as restricted shares became available for sale. American Apparel Inc. had the largest decline among apparel retailers, falling 7.8 percent to 58 cents, while Nu Skin Enterprises Inc. saw its shares decline 7.1 percent to $81.38 after it reported first-quarter profits and sales that exceeded analysts’ expectations but issued second-quarter guidance that fell short of them.
In advance of the filing of comparable sales results by retailers on Thursday, the International Council of Shopping Centers and Goldman Sachs reported in their chain store sales index that sales for the week ended on Saturday were off 2 percent from the prior week, although 2 percent above year-ago results. Softness was noted at discounters and department and specialty stores.
European markets edged down at the close of trading, with the CAC 40 in Paris leading the way.
The French market was down 0.8 percent to 4,428.07, followed by the DAX in Frankfurt, 0.7 percent to 9,467.53, and the FSTE MIB in Milan, 0.6 percent to 21,521.65. The FTSE 100 in London dipped 0.4 percent to 6,798.56.
Retail and luxury stocks were mostly down, including Aeffe, the Italian clothing manufacturer and brand owner that has been the subject of takeover speculation over the past week.
Its shares sank 9.5 percent to 1.18 euros after it said it is not looking to sell a stake.
“We emphasize that there is neither the intention nor the need to find a financial partner to whom to sell a significant minority stake. In fact, the company has shown a great ability to react to market changes, defining effective business strategies, which are already having positive results,” the company said.
Elsewhere, Asos.com fell 2.9 percent to 41.75 pounds; Carrefour, 2.2 percent to 26.18 euros; Yoox Group, 2.8 percent to 24.68 euros; and Italia Independent Group, 2.2 percent to 38.62 euros.
Among the few stocks that gained ground were Mulberry Group, up 4.6 percent to 7.35 pounds; Hugo Boss, 1.2 percent to 100.07 euros, and French Connection Group, 15.4 percent to 92 pence. French Connection’s strength stems from the continuing halo effect of an upbeat trading statement last month. The company said that sales rose 11 percent in the 11 weeks to April 12.
The euro traded at $1.39 against the U.S. dollar while the pound fetched $1.69, and the Swiss franc equaled $1.14.