By and  on August 17, 2010

Retail stocks rose 1.8 percent Tuesday as investors responded to better-than-expected second-quarter earnings from Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and The TJX Cos. Inc.

The S&P Retail Index rose 7.1 points to close at 407.56. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 1 percent, or 103.84 points, to 10,405.85. The S&P 500 climbed 1.2 percent, or 13.6 points, to 1,092.54.

Nordstrom Inc. advanced 2.9 percent to $30.99. Saks Inc., which narrowed its second-quart loss, gained 2.6 percent to $7.81. Among the discounters, Wal-Mart was up 1.2 percent to $51.02 and TJX increased 1 percent to $41.78. (For more on Wal-Mart and TJX, click here.)

American Apparel Inc. fell 25.9 percent to $1.03 after the retailer said it might not be able to continue as a going concern. Abercrombie & Fitch declined 6.9 percent to $35.05.

European stocks were up Tuesday, with the FTSE 100 in London, the DAX in Frankfurt and the CAC 40 in Paris all gaining more than 1.4 percent. In Asia, investors sent the Hang Seng Index up 0.1 percent in Hong Kong, but the Nikkei 225 down by 0.4 percent in Tokyo.

Meanwhile, wholesale prices for U.S.-made apparel declined 0.3 percent in July compared with June, but rose 0.1 percent from a year earlier, the Labor Department reported in its Producer Price Index.

Women’s apparel prices fell 0.5 percent for the month and 0.8 percent year-over-year. Men’s apparel prices declined 0.3 percent month-to-month, but rose 0.9 percent in 12-month comparisons.

Prices for all goods and services were up a seasonally adjusted 0.2 percent, after an increase of 0.5 percent in June and a decline of 0.3 percent in May. The so-called core prices, which exclude the volatile food and energy sectors, rose 0.3 percent in July.

“In normal times, core inflation at 0.3 percent — its highest since January — would be unwelcome, but when deflation is the fear, any sign of pricing power is greeted as good news,” said Nigel Gault, chief U.S. economist with IHS Global Insight.

In women’s apparel, prices for tailored jackets and vests, and jeans and slacks, were flat in monthly and yearly comparisons. Prices for knit shirts fell 3.1 percent month-to-month and 5.7 percent year-over-year. Dress prices declined 0.2 percent in July and 0.6 percent compared with a year earlier.

In men’s apparel, prices for woven shirts were flat in July, but rose 1.2 percent year-over-year. Knit shirt prices were up 0.1 percent month-to-month and 6.4 percent compared with a year earlier. Prices for men’s suits declined 0.1 percent in the month, but rose 1.2 percent compared with July 2009.

Apparel fabric prices fell 0.2 percent in July compared with a month earlier, but advanced 3.7 percent from a year earlier. Prices for goods made at textile product mills, which produce mostly home furnishing and industrial fabrics, declined 0.2 percent month-to-month, but rose 1.5 percent year-over-year.

Deeper in the pipeline, yarn prices fell 0.2 percent in July, but jumped 8.4 percent from a year earlier. Synthetic fiber prices declined 1.1 percent month-to-month and 1.4 percent year-over-year. Greige fabric prices decreased 0.2 percent in July, but rose 2.7 percent year-over-year. Finished fabric prices dipped 0.4 percent for the month, but rose 3 percent for the year.

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