Continued anxiety about the economy, tempered by news of a new mortgage relief package and signs of some renewed life in stores, led stocks to a modest decline on Wednesday.
After a lively bounce in the morning, the S&P Retail Index finished the trading day down 1.53 points, or 0.6 percent, at 250.01, a vast improvement over Tuesday’s 3.8 percent decline. The major indices finished the day not far from where they started it, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average up less than 0.1 percent at 7,555.63 and the S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite off 0.1 and 0.2 percent, respectively.
The Talbots Inc. and Coldwater Creek Inc. came back from respective falls of 27.8 and 22.9 percent Tuesday with pickups of 5.6 and 4.7 percent to close at $2.27 and $2.23. However, another hard-pressed store, large-size specialist Charming Shoppes Inc., suffered the largest decline of all stocks tracked by WWD, closing at 85 cents, down 13.3 percent.
Fossil Inc. and Perry Ellis International Inc. qualified for the best performers’ list for the second day in a row, finishing ahead 8.5 percent at $13.61 and up 7.7 percent at $5.17, respectively.
Even with President Obama’s signing of the $787 billion stimulus package into law and disclosure of a new plan to stabilize the U.S. housing market, gloom and uncertainty hung over the financial sector.
In minutes of its two-day meeting released Wednesday, the Federal Reserve’s Open Market Committee painted a moribund picture of the economy, including a predicted rise in 2009 unemployment to between 8.5 and 8.8 percent, from December’s 7.2 percent level, and general economic contraction of 0.5 to 1.3 percent, followed by limited growth of 2.5 to 3.3 percent in 2010.
“The staff again expected that unemployment would rise substantially through the beginning of 2010 before edging down over the remainder of the year,” read the notes from the meeting.
However, Todd Slater, analyst at Lazard Capital Markets, said he was hearing of “some acceleration” at retail in the past week, which “may have resulted from pent-up demand and the timing of Valentine’s Day-President’s Day.” He pointed out that Wal-Mart Stores Inc. reported a “good start” to February and positive recent showings at Urban Outfitters Inc.’s Anthropologie division, Limited Brands Inc.’s Victoria’s Secret stores and American Apparel Inc.
Meanwhile, in Mesa, Ariz., Obama revealed a plan to extend help to up to nine million homeowners and infuse the mortgage market with $75 billion. The housing plan focuses on helping responsible borrowers refinance at lower mortgage rates, assisting homeowners who are struggling with their payments stay current and reducing the rate of foreclosures. The plan would help four million to five million homeowners whose home values dropped through no fault of their own to refinance. The infusion would aid an additional three million to four million at-risk homeowners struggling because of the recession. Additionally, the plan would double the Treasury Department’s commitment to absorb losses at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which the government took over last year, to $200 billion.
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