Coach Inc. put a damper on high-end fashion stocks today and led the sector down, falling 18.6 percent to $49.33 — the accessories giant’s second-worst drop on record.

 

Coach posted stronger fourth-quarter earnings, but said sales at its North American outlet stores decelerated.

 

Also losing ground were Lululemon Athletica Inc., down 5.4 percent to $56.48; Tiffany & Co., 4 percent to $54.93; The Estée Lauder Cos. Inc., 2.7 percent to $52.38; PVH Corp., 2.2 percent to $79.43; Ralph Lauren Corp., 1.9 percent to $144.34, and Saks Inc., 1.6 percent to $10.43.

 

The S&P Retail Index fell 1.8 percent, or 10.99 points, to 618.52 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average declined 0.5 percent, or 64.33 points, to 13,008.68.

 

The Conference Board gave investors a stronger read on consumer sentiment this month, but investors were cautious ahead of a statement from the Federal Reserve Wednesday. The central bank’s committee on monetary policy began a two-day meeting today and investors are increasingly looking for the central bank to step in to help spur growth.

 

The Consumer Confidence Index rose to 65.9 this month from 62.7 in June. The research group said shoppers remained pessimistic about their paychecks given the weak job market.

 

In Europe, markets closed down after unemployment in the euro zone hit a record high of 11.2 percent in June.

 

The FTSE 100 in London suffered the most, falling 1 percent to 5,635.28, followed by the CAC 40 in Paris, which sank 0.9 percent to 3,291.66. The FTSE MIB in Milan was down 0.6 percent to 13,890.99 while the DAX in Frankfurt sank 0.03 percent to 6,772.26.

 

The decliners included Burberry Group, which sank 3.2 percent to 12.54 pounds; Inditex, 3.1 percent to 83.83 euros; Luxottica Group, 1.9 percent to 28.05 euros; and Compagnie Financiere Richemont, which fell 2.7 percent to 55.45 Swiss francs.

 

Among the few stocks that gained ground were Mulberry Group, which was up 1.5 percent to 14.59 pounds, and Metro, which climbed 3 percent to 22.41 euros.

 

The euro traded at $1.23 while the pound traded at $1.57 and the Swiss franc traded at $1.02.

 

On Thursday, the European Central Bank will weigh in on interest rates in the region and could start buying the bonds of indebted governments such as Spain and Italy. A buyback under the Securities Markets Program would help those countries reduce their borrowing costs.

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