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Retail Stocks Rise 1.7% for Week

Economic growth slow in Europe, credit tightens in China.

Ending strings of four consecutive losing weeks, U.S. retail stocks rose 1.7 percent last week and the Dow Jones Industrial Average advanced 0.9 percent.

This story first appeared in the February 15, 2010 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

The S&P Retail Index inched up 0.04 percent, or 0.14 points Friday, to 399.50. Of 172 publicly held firms tracked by WWD, 123 had increases for the week versus 39 with decreases and 10 that were unchanged.

The Dow dipped 0.4 percent, or 44.05 points Friday, to 10,099.14. The Dow started off the week with its first close below 10,000 since November as investors fretted that Greece’s debt woes could spread elsewhere. European leaders stepped forward Thursday and said they would “take determined and coordinated action, if needed, to safeguard financial stability in the euro area as a whole.”

And Europe remained in focus on Friday as the euro area turned in only a 0.1 percent rise in fourth-quarter gross domestic product, less than the 0.3 percent bump economists anticipated.

Still, it was an up week for European markets. The FTSE 100 rose 1.6 percent to 5,142.45 in London and the CAC 40 advanced 1 percent to 3,599.07 in Paris.

In China, the country’s financial institutions learned Friday they would have to keep more funds on reserve in the People’s Bank of China. It was the second 0.5 percentage point boost to the reserve deposit ratio from the central bank this year.

Such an increase is expected to have a cooling impact on the country’s economy since financial firms have less to lend out as reserve requirements rise.

In Asia last week, investors pushed the Nikkei 225 up 0.4 percent to 10,092.19 in Tokyo, the Hang Seng Index ahead 3.1 percent to 20,268.69 in Hong Kong and the SSE Composite Index up 2.7 percent to 3,018.12 in Shanghai.

In the U.S., Marsico Capital Management LLC reported to the Securities and Exchange Commission that it boosted its stake in Polo Ralph Lauren Corp. to 3.1 million shares, or 5.6 percent of those outstanding, as of Dec. 31, up from 2.5 million on Sept. 30. The additional shares lifted Marsico’s stake in the firm above 5 percent, necessitating a regulatory filing with the SEC.

At the end of last year, Marsico also held positions in Nordstrom Inc., Kohl’s Corp., J. Crew Group Inc., Nike Inc. and Under Armour Inc. in its $41.73 billion portfolio, according to its Form 13F-HR filing last week.