By  on September 16, 2009

If retail investors were comforted by Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke’s pronouncement that the recession was “likely over,” they didn’t show it.

The S&P Retail Index, still hovering near its high for the year, slipped 0.1 percent, or 0.53 points, to 373.63 on Tuesday, as the Dow Jones Industrial Average advanced 0.6 percent, or 56.61 points, to 9,683.41.

“Even though, from a technical perspective, the recession is very likely over at this point, it’s still going to feel like a very weak economy for some time,” said Bernanke after a speech at The Brookings Institution. “Many people will still find that their job security and their employment status is not what they wish it was.”

Bernanke said unemployment, now at a 26-year high of 9.7 percent, could be slow to improve. In August, retail and food service sales fell $22.52 billion from the prior-year month, despite improvement versus July.

Despite the declines on Wall Street, shares of Liz Claiborne Inc. hit $5.93, up 11.7 percent and the biggest percentage gain among firms tracked by WWD. Zale Corp.’s stock increased 8.2 percent to $7.75 even though the company has yet to post annual results and twice postponed release of its fourth-quarter results. Shares of Coldwater Creek Inc. increased 5.3 percent to $7.77 after the return of Dennis Pence as chief executive officer Monday.

Shares of Urban Outfitters Inc. inched up 0.3 percent to $30.78. Richard Hayne, president and chairman, has been an active seller lately, unloading 1.7 million shares since Thursday for $50 million, according to filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The shares were sold at prices ranging from $30 to $30.74. Hayne continues to beneficially own 17.5 million shares of the company, or about 10.2 percent of those outstanding as of July 31.

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