Despite soothing words from Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke on Thursday, who said he supported an economic stimulus package, investors remained wary of the economy after a Fed report showed a sharp decline in manufacturing activity.
As a result, the Dow Jones Industrial Average lost more than 300 points in afternoon trading, closing down 2.5 percent to 12,159.21 while the S&P 500 fell 2.9 percent to 1,333.27. Apparel shares were mixed with the S&P Retail Index shedding 0.7 percent to 371.45.
Sports apparel retailer Under Armour Inc. was among the New York Stock Exchange's biggest decliners, falling 13.1 percent to close at $37.23. This came after Goldman Sachs cut earnings estimates on a number of footwear and athletic apparel companies including Nike, Columbia Sportswear and Lululemon Athletica Inc.
Under Armour released financial results for 2007 after market. The company said it expects 2007 income from operations to exceed previous guidance of $81.5 million to $83 million, resulting in diluted earnings per share of approximately $1.03 to $1.04 for the full year. The firm also reiterated its 2008 outlook and expects earnings in the first half of the year in the range of 3 cents to 5 cents a diluted share.
Teen apparel retailer Aéropostale Inc. sank 6.7 percent to $21.89. On Wednesday the company said it was being investigated by the Securities and Exchange Commission on the activities of a former executive vice president and chief merchandising officer.
Quiksilver Inc. was one of the biggest gainers on the NYSE, rising 5 percent to $7.39 on an upgrade by Morgan Keegan. The company previously announced it might sell ski equipment maker Rossignol. And women's apparel retailer Charming Shoppes Inc. was up 7.4 percent to $4.94 after an investor group named three people to the company's board in an effort to refocus the business, according to a release.
Bernanke testified before the House Budget Committee on Thursday, telling lawmakers that a quickly implemented, temporary, short-term plan would have a "significant" and "measurable" impact on the economy. He is looking to inject money into the weakening economy and offset a looming crisis that has prompted consumers to sharply curtail spending.
Although he declined to support specific stimulus proposals, Bernanke stressed that initiatives such as tax rebates would be more effective in the short term than efforts to make permanent President Bush's tax cuts that expire in 2010."I think those who support making the president's tax cuts permanent...would say that the primary reason for advocating that would be for long-term growth purposes," Bernanke told lawmakers, who are considering a $100 billion package that will likely include tax refunds for consumers. "From the point of view of getting a stimulus in the next few months...I suggest that measures involved in putting money into the hands of households and firms that would spend it in the near term would be more effective," adding that he would not take a position on the politically sensitive issue of making long-term tax cuts permanent.
The National Retail Federation, representing major retailers who are concerned about the slowdown in consumer spending that makes up two-thirds of the economy, sent a letter to President Bush and Congressional leaders on Thursday urging rapid action on a stimulus package.
"U.S. retailers, who are the bellwether for our nation's changing economic climate, are greatly concerned about the softening of the U.S. economy," NRF president and chief executive officer Tracy Mullin wrote in the letter. "2007 holiday sales were the weakest since 2002, and as the new year begins, consumer spending remains sluggish....We agree with economists who say the fastest way for a stimulus to enter the economy is through the consumer."
EXCLUSIVE: @tomford is opening its first-ever beauty store. The boutique, which opens November 20 in London’s Covent Gardens, was designed with the over-the-top glam Ford is known for. Read the full story on WWD.com, link in bio. #wwdbeauty #wwdnews (📷: Simon Wagner) #TomFordBeauty
New York-based DJ @harleyvnewton threw a party to celebrate the holiday collection of her dress and pajama line @hvn at the Ladurée Beverly Hills. It Girls @katebosworth, @rashidajones and more joined in on the fun, which included cocktails, croque monsieur sandwiches and a photo booth. #wwdfashion (📷: Owen Kolasinski/BFA.com)
For the holidays, @Burberry partnered with 20-year-old artist @blondeymccoy on a series of three outdoor murals in downtown Manhattan. The murals are McCoy’s interpretation of a Christmas eve party, the idea of charity and the spirit of family. His third mural, pictured here, is the most personal. The image depicts McCoy’s grandparents and father in London’s Trafalgar Square in the Seventies. “My work often features lots of sentimental objects.” #wwdeye
For spring 2018, designers applied bold colors and cartoonish motifs on everything from sneakers and belts to key chains. See all the top men’s accessories trends on WWD.com. #wwdtrends (📷: George Chinsee; Prop Styling by @rnasti; Market Editor: @luiscampuzano)
The @dior-sponsored @guggenheim international gala pre-party has a history of drawing cool-girl musical acts to serenade the crowd –– and last night was no exception. @haimtheband performed songs both new and old, and lured a star-studded audience with the likes of Rebecca Hall, Kate Mara, Mamoudou Athie and more. #wwdeye (📷: @lexieblacklock)
In a partnership between the @metopera and the @englishnationalopera, “Marnie” was born. The opera, with costumes sponsored by @mrporterlive, is an adaptation of the 1961 thriller by Winston Graham. Arianne Phillips, who created the costumes, is no rookie: She’s styled Madonna for her tours and created costumes for a myriad of films in the past. Read WWD’s interview with Phillips, where she talks about her inspiration for the opera’s costumes on WWD.com #wwdfashion
@barneysnyc took a different approach to their holiday windows this year. Instead of Christmas decor, Barneys tapped @thehaasbrothers to tell a story of positivity, gratitude and inclusivity via heartwarming silliness and humor. “It’s about kids and it’s about coming together and being family and loving each other,” said Simon Haas. #wwdfashion (📷: @joshuascottphoto)
Beauty influencer @kandeejohnson makes her foray into hair care with a collaboration with @ogx_beauty — making it the first time that OGX has teamed up for a product creation. The collab includes shampoos and conditioners in three scents. At 39 and a mom, Johnson is a different profile than the emerging social media stars, but is considered one of the pioneers of the digital beauty influencer world. Read WWD’s interview with her on wwd.com, including the strangest beauty product she’s ever tried #wwdbeauty