Shares of U.S. retail companies were sharply lower in early trading Wednesday as uncertainty about the credit markets and tonight’s Senate bailout vote weighed heavily on investors.
The Standard & Poor’s Retail Index dropped 2.1 percent in the first 40 minutes of trading, placing it at 354.85. That outpaced the 1.5 percent drop in the Dow Jones Industrial Average, which fell 158.34 points, or 1.5 percent, to 10,692,32 at the first hour of activity.

Saks was off 3.7 percent to $8.91 while Macy’s and Nordstrom dropped 2.7 percent and 2.5 percent, respectively, to $17.49 and $28.11. Among the other companies shedding market value early Wednesday were Cache (4.4 percent to $6.57), Bon-Ton Stores (3.7 percent to $2.82), Talbots (3.6 percent to $12.63), Retail Ventures (3.1 percent to $3.78), AnnTaylor (3.1 percent to $20.01) and The Children’s Place (3 percent to $34.36).
Overseas markets were generally lower, with IT Holding dropping 14.4 percent in trading in Milan. However, in London, Marks & Spencer moved up 6.6 percent.
For more, see Thursday’s issue of WWD.