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U.S. Retail Shares Down 2.5%

Decline is 16th in 22 trading days so far in 2014.

The investment community marked the beginning of Janet Yellen’s tenure as chairman of the Federal Reserve with a less than cheery reception.

Stocks on both sides of the Atlantic began the week with sharp declines spurred by a weak reading on U.S. manufacturing activity and continued trepidation about growth in emerging markets and corporate earnings.

The S&P 500 Retailing Industry Group lost 2.5 percent to close at 845.77, worse than the 2.1 percent decline of the Dow Jones Industrial Average, to 15,372.80, and the S&P 500’s 2.3 percent decline, to 1,741.89. The retail index’s drop was the second largest of the year, just slightly less than Friday’s 2.6 percent slide, and left the index down 10 percent since the start of the year.  It’s lost ground in 16 of 22 trading sessions in 2014.

U.S. markets fell at the opening bell on word that the Institute of Supply Management’s manufacturing index came in at 51.3 percent in January, down from 56.5 percent in December and below the 56 percent mark expected by analysts. Apparel, leather and allied products were among the manufacturing sectors contracting last month.

Yellen, confirmed by the Senate early last month, was sworn in to succeed Ben Bernanke as Federal Reserve chairman. Her term as the head of the central bank runs until February 2018.

The sharpest loss among fashion, retail and beauty stocks tracked by WWD came from The Men’s Wearhouse Inc., off 7.8 percent to $44.31, as Jos. A. Bank Inc.’s resistance to MW’s offer to acquire Bank through a $1.61 billion cash tender offer, expressed in a letter to MW’s board released Sunday, made a deal appear less likely. Bank shares also surrendered value, falling 5 percent to $53.39. The cash tender offer is for $57.50 a share. Large losses were also taken by shareholders of New York & Co. Inc., down 6.2 percent to $4.25, and Christopher & Banks Corp., down 6 percent to $6.71.

Among only a handful of stocks with gains, Vince Holding Corp. rose 1 percent to $23.59 and Joe’s Jeans Inc. was up 0.9 percent to $1.15.

Europe’s markets also weathered a broad sell-off, with the FTSE MIB in Milan down 2.6 percent to 18,907.16 and the CAC 40 in Paris off 1.4 percent to 4,107.75. The DAX declined 1.3 percent to 9,186.52 in Frankfurt while the FTSE 100 was off 1.1 percent to 6,465.66 in London. Of the four European markets, only Milan’s is up so far for the year.

Among the heaviest losses came from Brunello Cucinelli, down 5.7 percent to 19.10 euros; Aeffe, down 5.1 percent to 0.75 euros, and Prada, down 4.2 percent to 56.95 Hong Kong dollars.

Those with positive days included French Connection Group, up 5.7 percent to 37 pence, and Bonmarche Holding, up 1.6 percent to 2.87 pounds.

The euro traded for $1.36 against the U.S. dollar while the pound was spotted at $1.64 and the Hong Kong dollar at 12.9 cents.