Stocks pulled back again Thursday as Wall Street turned its attention to Washington and its stewardship of the economy, but retail stocks escaped the worst of the damage.
The S&P Retail Index backtracked 1.83 points, or 0.5 percent, settling below 400 at 398.34, but outperforming the Dow Jones Industrial Average, which declined 115.70 points, or 1.1 percent, to 10,120.46, and the S&P 500, down 12.97 points, or 1.2 percent, to 1,084.53. Weak readings on the tech sector sent the Nasdaq Composite down 42.41 points, or 1.9 percent, to 2,179.00.
The markets were already closed when word arrived the Senate had confirmed Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke for a second term on a vote of 70 to 30, but had time earlier in the day to absorb President Obama’s State of the Union address, delivered to Congress on Wednesday night.
Although the Fed chairman had come under steady fire for his role in the federal government’s $700 billion bailout of banks and financial firms, questions about his reappointment — and about just how far Obama would go to regulate the financial sector — had applied downward pressure on stocks throughout the week. Although Bernanke’s likely reconfirmation didn’t stabilize stocks on Thursday, it helped limit the breadth of the sell-off.
Still, critics are certain to keep a sharp eye on Bernanke after blaming him for failing to see the looming financial crisis which brought economic activity to a near standstill in September 2008.
President Obama today is set to propose two separate tax cuts for small businesses, following up on a pledge in his State of the Union address, according to the White House.
The first tax break will come in the form of a $5,000 credit for every new employee hired. The total amount of the credit for any one firm will be capped at $500,000 and start-ups will be eligible for the tax credit. Companies will be able to claim the credit on a quarterly basis.
The President will also propose to reimburse Social Security payroll taxes to small businesses that increase wages or hours for their employees. However, small businesses will be deemed ineligible for either tax break if they reduce employment payrolls in 2010.
During his speech Wednesday night, Obama proposed a new small business tax credit, which he said would go to more than 1 million small businesses who hire new workers or raise wages.
The strongest performer among the 172 firms tracked by WWD was Destination Maternity Corp., shares of which advanced 11.3 percent, to $23.78, after the firm reported an unexpected first-quarter profit.
Harrods plans to remove the famous statue of Princess Diana and Dodi Al Fayed from the bottom of the Egyptian escalators and hand it back to Mohamed Al-Fayed. “We are very proud to have played our role in celebrating the lives of Diana, Princess of Wales and Dodi Al Fayed at Harrods and to have welcomed people from around the world to visit the memorial for the past 20 years,” said Michael Ward, Harrods managing director. “With the announcement of the new official memorial statue to Diana, Princess of Wales at Kensington Palace, we feel that the time is right to return this memorial to Mr. Al Fayed and for the public to be invited to pay their respects at the palace.” More on the news, with reporting by @loreleimarfil, at WWD.com. #wwdnews
@prada is introducing a new project at its men’s fall 2018 show this Sunday: “Prada Invites.” The fashion house invited four celebrated creative minds – @ronanaerwanbouroullec, Konstantin Grcic, @herzogdemeuron and @rem.koolhaas – to each create a unique item with its iconic nylon material. The designs will be unveiled on the runway show, which will take place at the company’s warehouse in Viale Ortles 25. #wwdfashion #mfwm (📷: @martinocarrera)
@kering_official is spinning off its stake in puma in an effort to focus on its luxury brands, the brand operator announced yesterday. “We are proud to have supported the turnaround of Puma, which now has unrivaled capabilities to take full advantage of the specific dynamics of its global markets and is poised to achieve substantial growth,” said François-Henri Pinault, Kering’s chief executive officer and chairman. Artémis will become a “long-term strategic shareholder” of Puma with a 29 percent stake. #wwdnews #wwdfashion (📷: @jilliansollazzo)
The fashion world mourns for celebrated street style photographer, Nabile Quenum, who died at age 32 in Paris.
Quenum, creator of the fashion blog “J’ai Perdu Ma Veste,” was a fashion week fixture, and regularly shot for New York magazine’s The Cut, among other outlets, and brands such as Louis Vuitton, Moncler and Adidas. He was also actively involved in the #NoFreePhotos initiative, which kicked off in the fall. Read more about Quenum in @kbsmoke's story on WWD.com. #wwdnews
@verwanggang and @maisonladuree have teamed up on a dessert collab called Vera Wang Pour Ladurée. The collection, which launched this week, features a specialty macaroon, as well as a wedding cake inspired by one of the designer’s gowns. “I could not imagine a more delicate or sophisticated creation to grace any couple’s celebration,” said Wang. #wwdfashion