U.S. retail stocks established another new high today, but ended with a loss as investors turned again to the debt drama in Greece and economic woes.
The S&P Retail Index fell 1 percent, or 5.92 points, to end at 563.79, having traded as high as 571.07 — fresh territory for the index. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.8 percent, or 97.33 points, to 12,780.95.
The decliners included Saks Inc., down 3 percent to $10.59; True Religion Apparel Inc., 2.4 percent to $27.21; Destination Maternity Corp., 2.4 percent to $15.34; Fossil Inc., 2.2 percent to $117.16, and The Jones Group Inc., 2.2 percent to $9.67.
Bucking the trend were Abercrombie & Fitch Co., which gained 8.3 percent to $48.30 after a disappointing fourth quarter was followed by a decent 2012 outlook, and Sears Holdings Corp., which gained 8.1 percent to $52.69.
European stock markets — with the exception of the FTSE 100 in London — closed on an up, despite downbeat news in the Euro zone.
The main British market edged down 0.1 percent to 5,892.16, while the three other markets each rose by 0.4 percent. The CAC 40 in Paris reached 3,390.35, while the DAX in Frankfurt hit 6,757.94, and the FTSE MIB in Milan rose to 16,513.21.
The day’s biggest gainers included Burberry Group, which climbed 2 percent to 14.51 pounds; Geox, which rose 1.8 percent to 2.69 euros, and Hugo Boss, which advanced 1.7 percent to 70.00 euros.
Among the stocks that lost ground were French Connection, which slipped 1.6 percent to 47 pence; Marcolin, which fell 4 percent to 3.76 euros, and Safilo Group, which tumbled 3.1 percent to 5.40 euros.
The euro traded at $1.31, while the pound traded at $1.57. The 17 Euro zone economies contracted an overall 0.3 percent in the fourth quarter of 2011, the first fall in nearly three years, according to Eurostat, which provides official statistics on the Euro zone.
Italy and the Netherlands both saw their economies shrink by 0.7 percent in the fourth quarter, while Germany saw a decline of 0.2 percent compared with the previous quarter. France, on a brighter note, posted growth of 0.2 percent in the fourth quarter.
In Britain, meanwhile, unemployment figures ran to a 16-year high, rising by 48,000. Greece continues to work toward a plan that will unlock another round of bailout funds and help it avoid a debt default.