Retail stocks fell on Wall Street today as worries over the fiscal cliff overwhelmed a stronger reading on consumer sentiment.

The S&P Retailing Industry Group fell 0.4 percent, or 2.69 points, to 666.28, as the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.7 percent, or 89.24, to 12,878.13.

The retail decliners included Aéropostale Inc., down 3.3 percent to $13.31; Tumi Holdings Inc., 2.7 percent to $21.74; Guess Inc., 2.4 percent to $23.96; Kohl’s Corp., 1.5 percent to $51.16; Gap Inc., 1.3 percent to $35.15, and Tiffany & Co., 1.1 percent to $62.63.

The retail retreat defied a stronger-than-expected rise in this month’s reading of The Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index.

The index advanced to 73.7 for November, up from 73.1 in October. That puts the index at levels not seen since February 2008 and ahead of the 73.2 economists projected.

Investors instead focused on the automatic tax increases and spending cuts that will kick in at the end of year if the White House and Capitol can’t hammer out a solution.

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development said the stakes are high.

“The world economy is far from being out of the woods,” said Angel Gurría, the group’s secretary-general. “The U.S. fiscal cliff, if it materializes, could tip an already weak economy into recession, while failure to solve the euro area crisis could lead to a major financial shock and global downturn.”

In Europe, Frankfurt’s DAX gained 0.6 percent to 7,332.33, as London’s FTSE 100 rose 0.2 percent to 5,799.71 and Paris’ CAC 40 inched up 0.03 percent to 3,502.12. Milan’s FTSE MIB slipped 0.3 percent to 15,479.81.

The gainers included Mulberry Group, up 2 percent to 10.72 pounds; PPR, 1 percent to 140.20 euros; Luxottica Group, 0.6 percent to 31.05 euros; LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, 0.6 percent to 131.60 euros, and Burberry Group, 0.5 percent to 12.43 pounds.

In its second-day of trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange, Hudson’s Bay Co. inched up 0.2 percent to 16.93 Canadian dollars, or $17.04. The stock debuted on the open market Monday at 16.80 Canadian dollars.

The pounded traded at $1.60 versus the dollar, while the euro went for $1.29.