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.
@tradesy is turning the concept of a showroom upside down with its new space in Santa Monica. Here, the company plans to hold events, art exhibits and a showcase rare fashion pieces like this Louis Vuitton boxing set. Get all the details on Tradesy’s first showroom on WWD.com. #wwdnews
Spotted last night at the @erdem x @hm launch event: Kate Bosworth, Rashida Jones, Kirsten Dunst and Selma Blair. The party, which took place in LA, also marked the opening of their pop-up shop. “I was interested in creating a collection that wasn’t in any way disposable. It was about pieces you’d create and keep forever, things that have a permanence to it,” designer Erdem Moralioglu said. #wwdeye (📷: Katie Jones)
Renee Zellweger in yellow in 2001 and again in 2017. Chosen as one of the 12 @pantone Leading Spring Colors (and dubbed “Meadowlark”), it only makes sense that the bright hue stands the test of time and is making a resurgence this season, seen already on stars like @blakelively and @gigihadid. (📷: Donato Sardello & @rexfeatures) #wwdfashion #tbt
Dior’s 70th anniversary celebration continues with a new exhibition at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto. “Christian Dior,” which is scheduled to run through March 18, takes a look at the founders tenure from 1947 to 1057 and feature 40 designs. Pictured here is an evening gown from the Ailée, fall 1948-49 haute couture collection. #wwdfashion (📷: Brian Boyle)
As one of the most recognizable models in the world, Christy Turlington Burns has an insider’s view of the fashion industry and the allegations of sexual harassment swirling around it. “I can say that harassment and mistreatment have always been widely known and tolerated in the industry. The industry is surrounded by predators who thrive on the constant rejection and loneliness so many of us have experiences at some point in our careers,” Turlington told WWD, along with her suggestions for how the modeling world should protect younger women and men. Read more on WWD.com. Link in bio. (📷: Tony Palmieri) #wwdnews
@asics America has tapped a new brand ambassador: famed DJ/record producer @steveaoki. This initiative is intended to set the tone for the new brand identity and philosophy and will include partnerships with influencers and in-store and off-line activations that will continue into next year. This is Asics’ most significant marketing effort in two decades, and is expected to attract younger consumers to the brand. #wwdfashion
24-year-old Jean Prounis is redefining the rules of jewelry. Formerly a studio assistant to Jemima Kirke and a design apprentice at Ghuran, she focuses on handcrafted subtleties and ancient goldsmithing techniques. “There was a really sterile feel in the environment and I wanted to have jewelry with character that shapes how you wear it everyday,” Prounis said. Each piece is hand made in New York, either by Prounis or three other jewelers in the district. #wwdfashion
“These collections continue to build on that vision, empowering differently abled adults to express themselves through fashion,” said @tommyhilfiger of his line of adaptive apparel, which launches today. The line consists of 37 men’s and 34 women’s styles based upon the pieces from the spring Tommy Hilfiger sportswear collection. #wwdnews