By and  on August 8, 2012

U.S. retail stocks slipped today, snapping a run of four consecutive days of gains as quarterly earnings reports fleshed out the consumer and economic picture headed into the second half. The S&P Retail Index was down 0.9 percent, or 5.89 points, to 627.00 as trading settled, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed the day up 7.04 points at 13,175.64. Shares of Ralph Lauren Corp. fell 1.2 percent to $151.17 even though the firm posted a 5.1 percent gain in first-quarter net income. And Macy’s Inc.’s stock gained 2.8 percent to $37.99 after the company’s second-quarter profits rose 15.8 percent. Shares of Maidenform Brands Inc. fell as much as 10.5 percent after the intimates firm lowered its annual profit guidance, but the stock fought its way back to a decline of just 0.3 percent to $22.28 as trading wound down. Troubles in debt-crunched Europe and weakness in the U.S. have been continuing themes for companies reporting second-quarter results so far. In Europe, markets were mixed in the face of more grim economic news. In the U.K., the Bank of England slashed its 2012 growth forecast to zero from 0.8 percent projected in May. A year ago, the bank was forecasting growth of 2 percent for the year. And in Germany, exports fell in the month of June, dragged down by declining sales to euro zone countries. Exports were 1.5 percent lower than in May, according Germany's federal statistics office. The Bank of France, meanwhile, has predicted that the economy will contract by 0.1 percent in the quarter from July to September, tipping the country back into recession. The CAC 40 in Paris was down 0.4 percent to 3,438.26, followed by the DAX in Frankfurt, which sank 0.03 percent to 6,966.15. The FTSE 100 in London and the FTSE MIB in Milan were both up 0.1 percent to 5,845.92 and 14,665.30, respectively. The gainers included Tod’s, up 10.3 percent to 84.75 euros on the back of a double-digit increase in first half net income; Yoox, 1.5 percent to 10 euros, and Ferragamo was up 1.6 percent to 17.43. And among those logging declines were Mulberry Group, down 2.1 percent to 13.84 pounds, and French Connection, 4.9 percent to 0.20 pounds. The euro traded at $1.24 while the pound traded at $1.56.

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