U.S. stocks weren’t able to hold onto the big gains registered on Tuesday morning, when Hurricane Gustav’s relatively mild landfall sent the price of crude oil sharply lower. Retail shares managed to retain most of their early strength, however. While the Dow Jones Industrial Average gave back all of its early-day advance of nearly 250 points, ending the day down 26.63 points at 11.516.92, the Standard & Poor’s Retail Index locked in a 3 percent pickup to end the first trading day of the new month at 407.80. Other major indices lost ground. Expectations for August retail sales, to be reported by stores on Thursday, aren’t particularly strong, but the absence of upward pressure on gas prices gave retail stocks momentum that they didn’t surrender. Urban Outfitters hit an all-time high of $38.36 before settling in with a 4 percent uplift at $37.06. European fashion companies enjoyed gains on Tuesday as well, with some of the strongest coming from Safilo Group (up 5.2 percent) and Carrefour (up 4.8 percent). PPR, Burberry and Bulgari each finished with increases of 4.5 percent. Swatch also managed to just clear the 4 percent gain hurdle. (Best and worst performance comparisons below are with closing prices on Aug. 29, even though European exchanges were open Monday.)
* Editor’s note: European stocks are quoted in the currency of their principal exchanges. Shares on the London Stock Exchange are quoted in pence, Richemont and The Swatch Group are quoted in Swiss francs and Hennes & Mauritz is quoted in Swedish kronor. All other European stocks are in euros.