Fashion apparel, accessories and beauty stocks have recovered losses made earlier this summer when investors pulled back from global equities in the wake of the Chinese stock market collapse and the debt crisis in Greece.
The WWD Global Stock Tracker shed just over 3 percent from early June through mid-July, and clocked a three-month low of 110.84 on July 8 as headlines were jammed with bad news from Greece as well as China. But the composite is up 5.2 percent to date, with 54 of the 100 stocks that make up the tracker advancing while 46 have declined.
The top gainers in the three-month period include Shiseido Co. with a 44 percent increase to $25.99; Matsuya Co. with a 35 percent rise to $20.68; Under Armour, which gained 32 percent in the period to $101.04; and G-III Apparel Group Ltd. with a 25 percent increase to $70.72.
So as global economic issues take a temporary spot on the back burner, investors are now looking at the Federal Reserve again for clues on an interest rate hike. In various polls of economists, just about half expect the Fed to raise rates next month at the Federal Open Markets Committee meeting. The FOMC has been weighing several economic factors — especially inflation — as it considers a rate hike.
In a July 29 statement from the committee following its monthly meeting, the members said “economic activity has been expanding moderately in recent months. Growth in household spending has been moderate and the housing sector has shown additional improvement; however, business-fixed investment and net exports stayed soft.”
Data from the labor market continued to improve, the committee said, “with solid job gains and declining unemployment. On balance, a range of labor market indicators suggest that under-utilization of labor resources has diminished since early this year.”
The FOMC said “inflation continued to run below the committee’s longer-run objective, partly reflecting earlier declines in energy prices and decreasing prices of non-energy imports.” The members added that “survey‑based measures of longer-term inflation expectations have remained stable.”
However, the Fed committee changed its tune later in its statement noting that “inflation is anticipated to remain near its recent low-level in the near term, but the committee expects inflation to rise gradually toward 2 percent over the medium term as the labor market improves further and the transitory effects of earlier declines in energy and import prices dissipate.”
The FOMC vowed to “monitor inflation developments closely.”
For the moment, inflation (as measured by the consumer price index) remains low — save for food and shelter, which have gained 1.8 percent and 3 percent, respectively, for the 12-month period ended June 30. Energy, which includes all related commodities, fuel oil, gas, electricity and utilities, is down 15 percent. Costs of other items less food and energy is up 1.8 percent while apparel is down 1.8 percent.