By  on July 2, 2009

Concerns about jobs — both in the U.S. and abroad — wreaked havoc with the equity markets Thursday, leaving the S&P Retail Index and the major indices with declines for the abbreviated trading week.

The S&P Retail Index took a 12.72-point, or 4 percent, broadside Thursday to close at 308.89, 4.3 percent below its 322.89 close last Friday. The government’s morning report of continuing job losses sent stocks downward from the opening bell on.

To add temporal insult to fiscal injury as traders and investors headed out for the July 4th holiday weekend, the New York Stock Exchange experienced technical difficulties, prompting it to extend the trading day to 4:15 p.m. from its usual 4 p.m. close.

The extra time provided no relief as the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 232.32 points, or 2.6 percent, to 8,280.74, leaving its decline from last Friday at 1.9 percent and its losses for the year at 5.7 percent. Similarly, the S&P 500 was off 26.91 points, or 2.9 percent, to 896.42, its first close below the 900 mark since June 23. The S&P was down 2.5 percent for the week and is off 0.8 percent for the year.

Even with its decline of 2.7 percent for the day and 2.3 percent for the week, the Nasdaq remains 13.9 percent above its close at the end of 2008.

Similarly, the S&P Retail Index is 10.6 percent above its finale point last year.

Saks Inc. enjoyed a second straight day of gains, rising 11 cents, or 2.3 percent, to $4.84 on top of the 6.8 percent gain Wednesday on a positive research note from J.P. Morgan equity analyst Charles Grom. Saks’ shares were up 12.3 percent for the week and are now up 10.5 percent for the year at more than three times the 52-week low of $1.50 reached on March 10.

Shares of The Talbots Inc. Thursday fell 52 cents, or 9.6 percent, to $4.88. The company said early Thursday it had completed the sale of the principal assets of J. Jill, including 205 stores, to an affiliate of Golden Gate Capital. Although down 10.8 percent for the week, the firm’s shares have more than doubled this year.

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