The WWD Global Stock Tracker fell 1.3 percent today to 108.05 and followed in the steps of most major global indices.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended the day down 186.59 points, or 1.1 percent, to 17,427.09 after shedding more than 300 points in midday trading following a disappointing report on December retail sales from the Department of Commerce. After dipping below the 2,000 mark after closing above it for 18 consecutive trading days, the S&P 500 also staged a late-day comeback to end the day off 11.76 points, or 0.6 percent, at 2,011.27.
The S&P 500 Retailing Industry Group made up some lost ground but still closed down 8.05 points, or 0.8 percent, at 990.65 as investors absorbed the disappointing news of an unexpected drop in December retail sales, which declined 0.9 percent from their November levels on a seasonally adjusted basis despite a 3.2 percent year-on-year gain. Apparel and accessories stores declined 0.3 percent sequentially but rose 3.8 percent year-on-year while department stores, off 0.2 percent from November, were down 0.6 percent from their December 2013 levels.
Despite the drop in overall numbers, the National Retail Federation reported that holiday sales in critical department store categories rose 4 percent, just shy of the 4.1 percent estimate provided by NRF as the season began.
“While December’s figures are disappointing, holiday sales in 2014 are the best we’ve seen since 2011,” said NRF chief economist Jack Kleinhenz. “We remain positive about the future and expect to see consumers continue to benefit from the extra income gained from an improved job market and the dramatic fall in gas prices.”
The drop in gas prices is symptomatic of a general weakness in commodities that contributed to stock declines.
Among the larger drops in worldwide markets was a 3.1 percent decline in Shanghai’s SSE Composite Index to 3,222.44 and a 2.4 percent slide in London’s FTSE 100 to 153.74.
Among WWD tracker stocks, the largest decline hit The Bon-Ton Stores Inc., off 4.8 percent to $6.09, followed by a 4.6 percent contraction for Dickson Concepts International, down 4.6 percent to 3.74 Hong Kong dollars, or 48 cents at current exchange. Ted Baker plc fell 3.8 percent to 22.90 pounds, or $34.71, while Fast Retailing Co. was down the same percentage to 41,940 yen, or $355.63.
Shares of Guess Inc. fell 3.1 percent to $20.38 while Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Ann Inc. gave up 3 percent each to close, respectively, at $86.61 and $35.50.
Twenty-eight of the 100 international fashion, retail and beauty stocks included in the tracker managed increases, led by a 2.3 percent gain at Carrefour SA, to 25.96 euros, or $30.56. J.C. Penney Co. Inc. shares were up 2.1 percent to $8.14 while Shinsegae Co. Ltd. rose at the same rate to 174,500 won, or $161.76. Trinity Ltd. was up 2 percent to 1.52 Hong Kong dollars, or 20 cents, and American Eagle Outfitters Inc. closed out the top five with a 1.9 percent gain to $14.51.