A strong jobs report offset news of growth in the trade deficit Wednesday, allowing U.S. retail stocks to eke out small gains in a short trading day ahead of the July 4 holiday weekend.
The S&P 500 Retailing Industry Group managed to add 0.1 percent, or 0.95 points, to close at 801.26 Wednesday. That was weaker than the Dow Jones Industrial Average’s 0.4 percent, or 56.14 point, advance to 14,988.55. The Dow briefly scaled the 15,000 mark late in the morning before retreating just shy of it at the 1 p.m. close.
The S&P 500 was essentially flat, ending the day up less than 0.1 percent at 1,615.41.
U.S. equities were lifted by the ADP National Employment Report showing that private employers added 188,000 jobs in June, better than the 160,000 expected by analysts and well above the 134,000 positions added in May. Weekly jobless claims fell 5,000 to a seasonally adjusted 343,000, according to the Labor Department. Wall Street is anxious to hear the government’s take on June employment, which is expected on Friday.
Investors were initially bearish during Wednesday’s session as the nation’s trade deficit in May rose 12.1 percent to $45 billion, with a drop in exports and an increase in oil imports accounting for most of the widening in the gap.
Among fashion, retail and beauty stocks, Delia’s Inc. led gainers, advancing 6 percent to $1.06, followed by Christopher & Banks Corp., ahead 2.7 percent to $6.27. Revlon Inc. shares rose 2.7 percent to $23.24.
Among the specialty retailers shedding at least 1 percent Wednesday were American Apparel Inc., down 2.2 percent to $1.81; Pacific Sunwear of California Inc., down 1.8 percent to $3.90, and L Brands Inc., down 1.2 percent to $49.20. Avon Products Inc. was down 1.6 percent to $20.94.
European stock markets ended the day on a down note, led by the FTSE 100 in London, which slid 1.2 percent to 6,229.87.
The CAC 40 in Paris, meanwhile, fell 1.1 percent to 3,702.01, followed by the DAX in Frankfurt, down 1 percent to 7,829.32, and the FTSE MIB in Milan, off 0.5 percent to 15,282.81.
The euro traded at $1.30 against the dollar, while the pound fetched $1.52 and the Swiss franc equaled $1.06.
Retail and luxury stocks were mostly down, with exceptions including Mulberry Group, which advanced 4 percent to 9.24 pounds, and Tod’s, up 1.5 percent to 111.50 euros.
Among the stocks that lost the most ground were Burberry Group, which sank 2.5 percent to 13.70 pounds; Brunello Cucinelli, down 3.4 percent to 20 euros; and Gemfields, off 2.8 percent to 0.22 pounds.