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Retail Stocks Lose Ground in February

Friday pickup can’t erase 3.1 percent decline for month.

Retail stocks finished the day and week on a positive note, but still suffered a 3.1 percent decline for the month of February.
 
During the final session of the month, the S&P Retail Index closed at 251.79, up 2.29 points, or 0.9 percent for the day. It rose the same percentage for the week.
 
If the retail decline for the month appeared sobering, it was far better than the major indices. After a 119.15 point, or 1.7 percent, drop on Friday, the Dow Jones Industrial average was down perilously close to the 7,000 mark, at 7.062.93. That translated into an 11.7 percent fall for the month, its biggest February decline ever, and a 4.1 percent pullback for the week.
 
The S&P 500 also retreated at a double-digit clip for the month, ending February at 735.09, representing a daily decline of 2.4 percent, a weekly waning of 4.1 percent and a monthly mauling of 11 percent.
 
The Nasdaq Composite Index fell 13.63 points, or 1 percent, on Friday, ending the month at 1,377.84, down 6.7 percent.
 
Among the stronger retailer performers Friday was J. Crew Group Inc., whose shares shot up 9.5 percent, to $11.26, following its announcement of a cost-reduction program including job cuts.
 
Shares of Limited Brands Inc. were off 0.7 percent, to $7.69, after downgrades by all three ratings services based on the company’s lower fourth-quarter earnings and weaker earnings outlook going forward.
 
Despite questions about Limited, however, numerous specialty stores other than J. Crew enjoyed substantial stock gains on Friday, including Pacific Sunwear of California, up 12.8 percent to $1.41, Chico’s FAS Inc., 7.9 percent to $4.53, and American Eagle Outfitters Inc., 5.3 percent to $9.76.
 
However, Tween Brands Inc., still under pressure after reporting fourth-quarter losses that far exceeded analysts’ expectations, saw its shares fall an additional 17.2 percent to $1.20. The stock began the week at $2.55.