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.
“What he has done at Vuitton is really exceptional,” said @gameofthrones’ actress Gwendoline Christie on @mrkimjones’ final show for @louisvuitton. “He has rebooted luxury in terms of making it commercial, viable and contemporary. And most importantly artistic. He has never compromised his artistic vision for the sake of commodity.” (📷: @zefashioninsider)
After seeing a demand for men’s wear from its customers, British contemporary women’s wear label @ariesarise has added a men’s wear component and will launch a unisex collection with @mrporterlive. The 20-piece collection includes jackets, denim, logo T-shirts and more with deconstructed ‘90s vibes. Set to launch on January 18, you can shop the pieces on Aries’ website and on mrporter.com. #wwdfashion
“And so spending so much time with a character who thinks like that, inevitability you try and analyze yourself and go back and think about your own demons and dark chapters that you had in your life,” says @thedanielbruhl of his role in TNT’s “The Alienist.” The show, set in the Gilded Age of New York, also stars Dakota Fanning and Luke Evans. Head to WWD.com to read about how 39-year-old Brühl prepared for the role and why he thinks the show is so relevant to today #wwdeye ( 📷: @Eriktanner)
Now that Celine Dion’s collection has topped $10 million in sales, the pop superstar, fashion icon and newly-minted industry player is eyeing growth in Asia. Read the full report by @tiffanyap, link in bio. #wwdnews #celinedion
“My personal philosophy to beauty is paying attention to oneself. I love to be outdoors, lots of fresh air, trying to take care of yourself as best you can. I always notice that comes through,” says Felicity Jones, the global face of @shiseido-owned @cledepeaubeauteus, which launches today. Head to WWD.com to read more about the actress’ love for beauty and how she prepared for her new role in “The Basis of Sex,” playing the young Ruth Bader Ginsburg. #wwdbeauty (📷: @dandoperalski)
Among the familiar faces at @off____white’s show was a surprise figure: Japanese artist @takashipom, pictured here on Wednesday morning. Other show-goers included @jerrylorenzo, who spoke about his upcoming project: a @nike collaboration for back to school, with designs inspired by his childhood on the West Coast. Sitting in the front row were Future, Don Crawley, @miguel and more. See the rest of the photos on WWD.com #wwdeye (📷: Stephane Feugere)
According to @laurentsai, former “Terrace House: Aloha State” cast member, she didn’t know she was auditioning for the Japanese version of “Real World.” “I was telling a couple of my friends and someone’s like, ‘That sounds a lot like Terrace House.’ I was like, ’No it can’t be.’” Turns out, it was. But Tsai isn’t just a reality star — she’s an illustrator who has worked with Starbucks Japan and most recently, she’s dipping her toes into the fashion world. Head to WWD.com to read about her time on the show, modeling and her art. #wwdeye (📷: @danieldorsa)
More changes are coming to New York Fashion Week: Beginning with the spring 2019 collection, @alexanderwangny will move his New York show to June from September, adopting a biannual schedule with collections shown in June and December. Additionally, the @cfda is planning for an official summer/winter fashion season taking place as soon as June and December 2018. Read more about the upcoming changes on WWD.com. #wwdnews #wwdfashion (📷: @slovekinpics)