Shares of Wal-Mart Stores Inc. fell for the third-straight trading session today as investors continued to fret over the company’s Mexican bribery scandal.
Wal-Mart’s stock decreased 0.7 percent to $57.36 — making for a three-day decline of 8.2 percent that cut the retailer’s market capitalization by $17.33 billion. The company is part of the Dow Jones Industrial Average and held the index to a gain of 0.7 percent, or 89.16 points, to 13,090.72.
Wal-Mart is investigating allegations that its expansion in Mexico was fed by a series of bribes that top executives later brushed off.
Most other retailers gained ground for the day. The S&P Retail Index, which does not include Wal-Mart, rose 1.9 percent, or 11.87 points, to 622.23.
One of the best performing stocks was J.C. Penney Co. Inc., which gained 5.5 percent to $35.66. It was a different story for two companies tied to the retailer. Shares of Iconix Brand Group Inc. fell 14.6 percent to $14.53 after the company reported that first-quarter sales took a hit as it switched its Royal Velvet home brand to a direct-to-retail license with Penney’s.
And shares of The Jones Group Inc., which will no longer sell its Gloria Vanderbilt and Easy Spirit brands to Penney’s, fell 8.1 percent to $11.25.
In Europe, the major stock markets held their nerve, maintaining ground gained earlier in the day despite downbeat news from the U.K. and calls from European leaders to curtail austerity measures.
The Office of National Statistics reported that the British economy shrank by 0.2 percent in the first quarter, plunging the country into a double-dip recession. The U.K. last slipped into recession in 2009 following the financial crisis.
European leaders have urged euro zone governments to stimulate growth since the austerity measures in the U.K., Spain, Portugal, and Greece are prompting economies to stall.
Speaking to the European Parliament on Wednesday, European Central Bank president Mario Draghi said austerity measures across Europe are “Starting to reverberate contraction effects, and we haven’t seen the benefits. What is most present in my mind is to have a ‘growth compact.'”
Despite the dire outlook, the FTSE MIB in Milan rose 2.9 percent to 14,606.43, followed by the CAC 40 in Paris, which climbed 2 percent to 3,233.46.
The DAX in Frankfurt was up 1.7 percent to 6,704.50, while the FTSE 100 in London inched up 0.2 percent to 5,718.89.
Retail and luxury stocks were mostly up with the markets. PPR rose 3.2 percent to 119.70 euros after reporting a 15.4 percent first-quarter sales increase. Also gaining were Ferragamo, which climbed 2.2 percent to 16.04 euros; Hermès International, 2.4 percent to 257.80 euros, and the Swatch Group, 3.2 percent to 72.65 CHF.
The euro traded at $1.32, while the pound traded at $1.61. The Swiss franc traded at $1.10.