The S&P Retail Index declined 5.12 points to 446.25, as the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.5 percent, or 52.68 points, to 10,836.15. Among the fashion companies losing ground were Under Armour Inc., down 5.3 percent to $29.16; Charming Shoppes Inc., 3.9 percent to $6.63; Aéropostale Inc., 3.3 percent to $28.49; J.C. Penney Co. Inc., 2.4 percent to $32.79, and The Warnaco Group Inc., 2.2 percent to $45.83.
Rising prospects for better sales have helped push retail stocks up 12.8 percent over the past two months, with the sector increasing or holding steady more than two-thirds of the time. Wednesday’s fall was only the fifth losing session for retail stocks this month and the largest percentage slip since the 2.3 percent slide on Feb. 4.
The retail index hit a new 52-week high of 452.02 Monday.
James Smith, chief economist of wealth management firm Parsec Financial Management in Asheville, N.C., said costs under the new health care laws were pressuring retail stocks.
“Retailers employ lots and lots of people in relation to sales, far more than manufacturers, so presumably they’re going to get hit a lot worse,” Smith said. “I’m sure there are a large number of lawyers and accountants at every large retailer trying to figure out what this means.”
Smith said consumer net worth was rising and that employers appear set to start hiring again, both of which bode well for retailers and the economy.
Still, investors are keeping close tabs on a number of sensitive topics, including new home sales, which the Commerce Department said slipped 2.2 percent from January to February to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 308,000. New home sales are down 23 percent since October.
And Fitch Ratings downgraded Portugal’s credit rating one level to “AA-minus” from “AA.” The outlook on the rating is negative.
“Although Portugal has not been disproportionately affected by the global downturn, prospects for economic recovery are weaker than [for its European Union] peers, which will put pressure on its public finances over the medium term,” said Douglas Renwick, credit analyst at Fitch.
Lately, it has been budget-constrained Greece making headlines and riling markets. It is still uncertain if the rest of Europe will bail the country out of its financial troubles.
But international markets were mostly on the rise Wednesday with the Nikkei 225 up 0.4 percent to 10,815.03 in Tokyo, the SSE Composite Index up 0.1 percent to 3,056.81 in Shanghai, the Hang Seng ahead 0.1 percent to 21,008.62 in Hong Kong and the FTSE 100 up 0.1 percent to 5,677.88 in London. The CAC 40 dipped 0.1 percent to 3,949.81 in Paris.
The annual Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic in Pacific Palisades this weekend drew Kate Hudson, Tracee Ellis Ross, Laura Dern and more. See pictures of the star-studded event on WWD.com. (📷: @chelsealaurenla) #wwdeye
In his new book “Hollywood Royale,” Andy Warhol’s Protégé Matthew Rolston celebrates the Eighties revival of Hollywood glamour. Featuring more than 100 portraits taken by Rolston from 1977 to 1993, the book contains photos of icons like Michael Jackson, Cyndi Lauper, and @drewbarrymore, pictured here in 1991. “Hollywood Royale,” out today, will be accompanied by an exhibition opening at Los Angeles’ Fahey/Klein Gallery on March 1. #wwdeye
"Nowadays when life is not so happy with everything going on in the world, I think people come to me for a little bit of whimsy and color and fun." - Designer Rebecca De Ravenel on her cult-favorite jewelry line. (📸 : @vsteves) #wwd40
“Everyone is talking about how the retail industry is struggling, but I think it’s an incredible time because brands who are doing something different and innovative are setting themselves up for the future,” said @adamgoldston, who founded the luxury athletic brand @apl with his brother @ryangoldsten. The Goldston’s are part of WWD’s 40 under 40: a group of industry notables. See the rest of the list on WWD.com. (📷: @vsteves) #wwd40
@eyeswoon blogger Athena Calderone debuted her first-ever cookbook, “Cook Beautiful,” which is heavily centered on the presentation and visual expression of food. Pictured here are her miso glazed carrots from the book. Get the recipe on WWD.com. (📷: @johnny_miller_) #wwdeye
“It’s passion that helps get anybody to a certain point and it’s what’s propelled me,” said Kith founder @ronniefieg, one of WWD’s 40 under 40: a group of industry notables who are changing the face of retail, fashion and beauty. Fieg, who opened a Manhattan flagship on October 7, began his career at age 13 as a stock boy and salesman for footwear chain David Z. “I think staying true to [my] beliefs, hard work and passion have gotten me to where [Kith] is today.” See the rest of the 40 at WWD.com. (📷: @vsteves) #wwd40
25-year-old @samweaving is about to break out this fall, starring in Netflix’s horror film “The Babysitter,” fittingly out today on Friday the 13th. That’s not the only place you’ll be seeing her, though — Weaving’s got a role Showtime’s “SMILF” and another alongside Frances McDormand and Woody Harrelson in “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.” Though she’s got a full plate at the moment, there’s one role she’s got her eye on: Marilyn Monroe. “I’m a little too young at the moment, but it’s on my bucket list,” the actress told WWD (📷: @dandoperalski) #wwdeye
BFF's Poppy Jamie and Suki Waterhouse celebrated the launch of their bag line Pop x Suki at Nordstrom last night. "The line is really about our friendship, and how we are so different but complement each other," said Waterhouse. 👯 (📷: Katie Jones) #wwdeye
After designing the new @louisvuitton and @bulgariofficial flagships and a @chanelofficial boutique opening in Japan, @petermarinoarchitect has another project on his plate: The Lobster Club. Located in the Seagram Building, it’s the famed architect’s first restaurant project in New York, serving up modern Japanese brasserie-style cuisine. Bronze hues, bespoke material detailing, blush and chartreuse tones and a heavy emphasis on Picasso can be seen throughout. Mark your calendars for Nov. 1 for the much-anticipated opening. (📷: @clint_spaulding) #wwdeye