Retail stocks continued to fall today as investors kept a close watch on Washington, looking for signs that the political freeze that shut down the government would thaw before the nation hits the debt ceiling.

The S&P 500 Retailing Industry Group fell 0.5 percent, or 3.78 points, to 822.7 — adding to Tuesday’s 2 percent drop. The general market was slightly positive and the Dow Jones Industrial Average
increased 0.2  percent, or 26.45 points, to 14,802.98.

The decliners included Sears Holdings Corp., off 5.5 percent to $59.57; Inc., 1.7 percent to $298.23; Burlington Stores Inc., 1.5 percent to $25.52, and Tiffany & Co., 1.1 percent to $73.91.

Two of the prominent gainers bucking the broader retail trend were The Men’s Wearhouse Inc., up 27.8 percent to $45.03 and Jos. A. Bank Clothiers Inc., 6.4 percent to $44.33. Jos. A. Bank tried to buy its larger competitor for $48 a share, but Men’s Wearhouse batted down the offer as too low.

The federal government is on track to run out of money on Oct. 17 if Congress doesn’t act to raise the debt ceiling. If the politics between President Obama and Congressional Republicans can’t be ironed out by then, the nation might fall behind on its debt payments, undermining the bedrock U.S. Treasury note.

In Europe, where investors are watching the political drama in the U.S., most markets closed down. The DAX in Frankfurt lost 0.5 percent to 8,516.69, London’s FTSE 100 dropped 0.4 percent to 6,337.91, while Paris’ CAC 40 slid 0.2 percent to 4,127.05. The FTSE MIB in Milan rose 1 percent to 18,551.57.

The pound traded at $1.61 against the dollar, while the euro was worth $1.36.


Retail and luxury stocks were mostly down, with the day’s biggest decliners including Safilo, down 3.4 percent to 14.14 euros; Burberry, 2.1 percent to 15.50 pounds, and, 2 percent to 48.62 pounds. lost 3.3 percent to 24.72 euros after it released a statement saying that, despite rumors, it was not engaged in talks with Compagnie Financière Richemont SA to evaluate a possible merger agreement with Net-a-porter Ltd.

Among those stocks making gains was Mulberry, up 1.9 percent to 10.14 pounds, while Carrefour and Inditex both gained 1.5 percent, to 26.19 euros and 113 euros, respectively.

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