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.
The annual Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic in Pacific Palisades this weekend drew Kate Hudson, Tracee Ellis Ross, Laura Dern and more. See pictures of the star-studded event on WWD.com. (📷: @chelsealaurenla) #wwdeye
In his new book “Hollywood Royale,” Andy Warhol’s Protégé Matthew Rolston celebrates the Eighties revival of Hollywood glamour. Featuring more than 100 portraits taken by Rolston from 1977 to 1993, the book contains photos of icons like Michael Jackson, Cyndi Lauper, and @drewbarrymore, pictured here in 1991. “Hollywood Royale,” out today, will be accompanied by an exhibition opening at Los Angeles’ Fahey/Klein Gallery on March 1. #wwdeye
"Nowadays when life is not so happy with everything going on in the world, I think people come to me for a little bit of whimsy and color and fun." - Designer Rebecca De Ravenel on her cult-favorite jewelry line. (📸 : @vsteves) #wwd40
“Everyone is talking about how the retail industry is struggling, but I think it’s an incredible time because brands who are doing something different and innovative are setting themselves up for the future,” said @adamgoldston, who founded the luxury athletic brand @apl with his brother @ryangoldsten. The Goldston’s are part of WWD’s 40 under 40: a group of industry notables. See the rest of the list on WWD.com. (📷: @vsteves) #wwd40
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25-year-old @samweaving is about to break out this fall, starring in Netflix’s horror film “The Babysitter,” fittingly out today on Friday the 13th. That’s not the only place you’ll be seeing her, though — Weaving’s got a role Showtime’s “SMILF” and another alongside Frances McDormand and Woody Harrelson in “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.” Though she’s got a full plate at the moment, there’s one role she’s got her eye on: Marilyn Monroe. “I’m a little too young at the moment, but it’s on my bucket list,” the actress told WWD (📷: @dandoperalski) #wwdeye
BFF's Poppy Jamie and Suki Waterhouse celebrated the launch of their bag line Pop x Suki at Nordstrom last night. "The line is really about our friendship, and how we are so different but complement each other," said Waterhouse. 👯 (📷: Katie Jones) #wwdeye
After designing the new @louisvuitton and @bulgariofficial flagships and a @chanelofficial boutique opening in Japan, @petermarinoarchitect has another project on his plate: The Lobster Club. Located in the Seagram Building, it’s the famed architect’s first restaurant project in New York, serving up modern Japanese brasserie-style cuisine. Bronze hues, bespoke material detailing, blush and chartreuse tones and a heavy emphasis on Picasso can be seen throughout. Mark your calendars for Nov. 1 for the much-anticipated opening. (📷: @clint_spaulding) #wwdeye