Wall Street took a step back today as investors pondered the prospects for global growth.
The S&P 500 Retailing Industry Group fell 0.7 percent, or 5.78 points, to 787.68, moving in lockstep with the Dow Jones Industrial Average, which declined 0.7 percent, or 106.59 points, to 15,302.80.
Among the decliners were Chico’s FAS Inc., which fell 7.1 percent to $17.96 after missing first-quarter profit projections; J.C. Penney Co. Inc., 4.3 percent to $17.92; Gap Inc., 2.8 percent to $39.37; The Procter & Gamble Co., 2.4 percent to $78.90, and Estée Lauder Cos. Inc., 2.3 percent to $69.21.
The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development said the global recovery continued, but that unemployment remains the most-serious issue facing governments.
“The global economy is strengthening gradually, but the upturn remains weak and uneven,” said OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría. “Supportive monetary policies, improving financial market conditions and a gradual restoration of confidence are at the root of the recovery.”
Investors have lately started to wonder in earnest when the Ben S. Bernanke-led Federal Reserve will begin to tighten monetary policy in the U.S., driving up the interest rates that have helped fuel the market rally.
The OECD projected that global gross domestic product would rise by 3.1 percent this year with a 1.9 percent gain in the U.S. and a 0.6 percent decline for the euro area, where unemployment is expected to stabilize at over 12 percent next year.
Markets also slumped in Europe.
London’s FTSE 100 dropped 2 percent to 6,627.17, followed by Paris’ CAC 40, which shrank 1.9 percent to 3,974.12. Frankfurt’s DAX slipped 1.7 percent to 8,336.58 and Milan’s FTSE MIB contracted 1.6 percent to 17,237.10.
The pound traded at $1.51 against the dollar and the euro fetched $1.31.
Among fashion companies losing ground were Luxottica, down 4.3 percent to 40.06 euros; Mulberry, 2.2 percent to 11 pounds; Marks & Spencer and Tod’s were both down 2.7 percent to 4.72 pounds and 112.30 euros respectively.
Asos.com was among the only stocks on the rise, up 0.33 percent to 38.73 pounds.