Retail stocks took a beating on Wall Street today, especially Sears Holding Corp., which fell 6.4 percent after the company said chairman Edward S. Lampert would take on the role of chief executive officer.

Shares of Sears declined $2.76 to $40.16. The retailer, which includes Sears and Kmart, also said its comparable-store sales for the nine weeks ended Dec. 29 fell 1.8 percent. Ceo Lou D’Ambrosio is stepping down at the end of the fiscal year to deal with family health matters. Sears also said its fourth-quarter net losses attributable to shareholders would range from $280 million to $360 million, an improvement from $2.4 billion in net losses a year ago.

Retail stocks in general lost ground for the day. The S&P 500 Retailing Industry Group, which does not include Sears, declined 0.5 percent, or 3.50 points, to 665.47, as the Dow Jones Industrial Average declined 0.4 percent, or 55.44 points, to 13,328.85.

The retail index’s decliners included J.C. Penney Co. Inc., down 4.9 percent to $18.99, and TJX Cos. Inc., 1.7 percent to $43.50.

In Europe, markets closed mainly lower with investors hesitant ahead of the start of fourth-quarter earnings season. 

The FTSE 100 in London closed down 0.2 percent at 6,053.63, while the CAC 40 in Paris was virtually unchanged at 3,705.88. The DAX in Frankfurt was down 0.5 percent to 7,695.83, and the FTSE MIB in Milan gained 0.3 percent to 16,951.14.

Retail and luxury stocks were also putting on a mixed show, with the day’s gainers including Safilo, up 4.1 percent to 7.70 euros; Inditex, up 2.2 percent to 105.60 euros, and Brunello Cucinelli, which advanced 2.7 percent to 14.15 euros after reporting preliminary 2012 revenues of 279 million euros, or $357.1 million, up 15 percent versus 2011.

Among the stocks losing ground were, down 1.8 percent to 26.46 pounds, and Debenhams, which dropped 7.7 percent to 10.81 pounds after the retailer cut its gross profit margin forecast.

The pound was trading at $1.61 against the dollar and the euro was worth $1.31 at 6:15 p.m. CET.

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