Stocks faltered in the U.S. and Europe today, giving back some of the gains from earlier in the week as investors worried that the path out of the Euro zone’s sovereign debt crisis could be trickier than previously hoped.
Amazon, which introduced the Kindle Fire tablet, propelled U.S. retail stocks up for much of the day, but the sector ultimately lost ground with most companies in retreat.
The S&P Retail Index closed down 0.4 percent, or 2.21 points, to 513.38, as the Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped 1.6 percent, or 179.79 points, to 11,010.90. The retail decliners included Chico’s FAS Inc., down 5.3 percent to $11.84; Guess Inc., 4.5 percent to $29.07; American Eagle Outfitters Inc., 2.2 percent to $12.06; Saks Inc., 1.6 percent to $9.35, and Wal-Mart Stores Inc., 1.4 percent to $51.31.
Markets in Europe were down in midmorning trading and recovered only slightly at the end of the day. Milan’s FTSE MIB closed down 0.5 percent as Frankfurt’s DAX retreated 0.9 percent and Paris’ CAC 40 sank 0.9 percent. The FTSE 100 registered the steepest fall, closing down 1.4 percent.
Banking shares dragged markets in the region down after the British treasury said it would oppose a European proposal that would see all financial transactions taxed in a bid to raise money for the cash-strapped Euro zone. The bulk of the Continent’s transactions take place in London.
Earlier in the day, European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso confirmed that Greece would remain within the Euro zone, but said the country’s economic problems would take a long time to resolve.
Meanwhile, principals from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund will meet in Athens later this week to evaluate the progress that Greece is making with its austerity program. They will then decide whether the country merits a second tranche of bailout funds.
Among the decliners in Europe were online retailer ASOS, which fell 5 percent; German retail group Arcandor, which plummeted 6.5 percent; Burberry, down 4 percent; PPR, off 1.5 percent, and LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, down 0.3 percent.