By  on February 4, 2010

Retail stocks backtracked 0.7 percent Wednesday as investors contemplated the recovery’s potential and looked ahead to Friday’s unemployment report, hoping for hints of continued stabilization.

The S&P Retail Index slid 2.76 points to 401.35 as the Dow Jones Industrial Average dipped 0.3 percent, or 26.30 points, to 10,270.55.

The measure of retail stocks broke back above 400 in October and traded as high as 421.70 in late December, as investors rejoiced at a better-than-expected, although still dour, Christmas sales season.

Retail stocks retreated to the 400 markthis year amid signs that a full recovery is still a long way off.

Economists project the U.S. economy added 13,000 jobs last month, which would mark only the second rise since December 2007. Unemployment is expected to hold steady at 10 percent. Once the job market does improve, consumers could begin to loosen their purse strings some more.

• Aéropostale’s Split: Aéropostale Inc., which capitalized on its value positioning to expand during the downturn, is reviving a once fashionable financial instrument — the stock split. The 3-for-2 split will give shareholders as of Feb. 24 another share of common stock for every two shares already held. The additional shares will be distributed March 4 and cash will be paid out to investors with an odd number of shares. Aéropostale will have about 94 million shares outstanding after the split.

• Mixed International Bag: Asian investors, who have been jittery lately over tightening bank lending standards, took an optimistic tack Wednesday, pushing the SSE Composite Index up 2.4 percent to 3,003.83 in Shanghai, as the Hang Seng Index increased 2.2 percent to 20,722.08 in Hong Kong and the Nikkei 225 advanced 0.3 percent to 10,404.33 in Tokyo. European traders pushed the FTSE 100 down 0.6 percent to 5,253.15 in London as the CAC 40 fell less than 0.1 percent to 4,012.91 in Paris.

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