By  on February 11, 2010

Retail shares pulled back on Wednesday as U.S. equity markets endured a small skid.

The S&P Retail Index was down 1.75 points, or 0.4 percent, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average gave back 20.26 points, or 0.2 percent, to close at 10,038.38. Investors reacted to Federal Reserve Board chairman Ben Bernanke’s testimony before the House Financial Services Committee that the Fed would have to tighten credit “at some point.”

What they did not react to were government reports — including Commerce Department findings on retail sales and business inventories — which were not released because of the snowstorms that have brought the nation’s capital to a near standstill.

Shares of Gildan Activewear Inc. rose $1.15, or 5.1 percent, on the first trading day after the company said its first-quarter profits increased more than sixfold on improved manufacturing efficiency and higher demand for its activewear and underwear. Liz Claiborne Inc. finished the day with a gain of 21 cents, or 3.9 percent, to $5.57.

Dallas-based Zale Corp., which late Tuesday said it had hired investment banking firm Peter J. Solomon Co. to assist in “identifying and analyzing alternatives to maximize its financial flexibility,” saw its shares slide 5 cents, or 2.6 percent, to $1.91.

Overseas markets continued to be lifted by growing optimism about a fix for the debt crisis in Greece, with Germany and France now expected to come to the aid of their European Union neighbor. In Paris, the CAC 40 rose 22.85 points, or 0.6 percent, to 3,635.61, while London’s FTSE 100 was up 20.15 points, or 0.4 percent, to 5,131.99.

China’s SSE Composite Index rose 33.66 points, or 1.1 percent, to 2,982.50 as Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index was up 131.94 points, or 0.7 percent, to 19,922.22. Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 was up 31.09 points, or 0.3 percent, to 9.963.99.

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