Retail Stocks Log Biggest Loss of Year

Decline of 2.6 percent leaves S&P 500 Retailing Industry Group down 7.7 percent in January.

Retail shares ended a tough week and month with their worst performance of the year as concerns about emerging markets and fourth-quarter financial performance continued to weigh on the investment community.

The S&P 500 Retailing Industry Group fell 2.6 percent to 867.60, leaving it off 2.8 percent for the week and down 7.7 percent for January. Finishing the worst performance by the major indices since May 2012, the Dow Jones Industrial Average declined 0.9 percent to 15,698.85 and the S&P 500 lost 0.7 percent to end the day, week and month at 1,782.59.

The Dow slid 5.3 percent in January while the S&P was off 3.6 percent.

In addition to concerns ranging from manufacturing activity in China and Turkey’s currency to low rates of inflation in the euro zone and rising inflation in Brazil, retail observers absorbed word that Wal-Mart Stores Inc. would report fourth-quarter earnings at the low range of its previous guidance of $1.60 to $1.70 a diluted share as U.S. comparable sales for the period, excluding fuel, were expected to be down slightly, rather than flat to up about 2 percent as earlier projected. Shares of the retailer held up reasonably well nonetheless, pulling back 0.1 percent to $74.68.

Shares of Amazon.com Inc. fell 11 percent to $358.69 as fourth-quarter earnings and sales, along with first-quarter guidance, fell below Wall Street’s expectations.

American Apparel Inc retreated 4.3 percent to 99 cents while Fossil Group Inc. surrendered 3 percent to end the day at $111.83.

Among only about two dozen fashion, beauty and retail stocks tracked by WWD to gain ground were Cache Inc., up 6.8 percent to $5.06; Under Armour Inc., up 3.2 percent to $108.11 one day after reporting earnings that easily beat expectations, and J.C. Penney Co. Inc., up 2.6 percent to $5.92 after hitting a 52-week low on Thursday.

European stock markets were mostly down at the close of trading on Friday, with the exception of the FTSE MIB in Milan, which rose less than 0.1 percent to 19,418.34.

The DAX in Frankfurt was down 0.7 percent to 9,306.48, while the FTSE 100 in London fell 0.4 percent to 6,510.44, and the CAC 40 in Paris dipped 0.3 percent to 4,165.72.

For the month, only the Milan exchange advanced, up 2.4 percent from its close on Dec. 31. The FTSE 100 is off 3.5 percent so far this year, the CAC 40 down 3 percent and the DAX lower by 2.6 percent.

Retail and luxury stocks put on a mixed show, with the day’s biggest gainers including LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, which climbed 7.9 percent to 132.35 euros; Moncler, 1.8 percent to 14.12 euros; Hermès, 4.1 percent to 236.25 euros; Brunello Cucinelli, 3.9 percent to 20.25 euros, and Burberry Group, 2.6 percent to 14.48 pounds.

Among the stocks that lost the most ground were Asos.com, 1.9 percent to 61.81 pounds; Metro AG, 1.4 percent to 30.59 euros, and Unilever, 1.4 percent to 27.70 euros.

The euro traded at $1.36 against the U.S. dollar while the pound fetched $1.65 and the Swiss franc equaled $1.11.