A roller coaster day in the market on Friday trimmed the month’s gains to just 0.26 percent.
At one point the Dow Jones Industrial average tumbled 200 points, but managed to recover and keep the losses at just 57 points to end the day at 17,733. In a similar pattern, the S&P 500 gave way to month end selling and finished April down 0.43 percent to 2,065. The Nasdaq lost the most in April as it gave back 2.3 percent to close out at 4,775.
Gold and silver both hit a 15-month high with gold ending the day at $1,291 an ounce for a gain of 5.5 percent for the last 30 days. Silver closed at $17.77 an ounce. That was a whopping jump of 16.7 percent in just 30 days.
“The bigger and more important picture is that we’re seeing a turn in the raw commodity cycle,” said Jim Wyckoff of Kitco Metals Inc. “All of a sudden, gold is starting to rally. Crude oil is hitting a five-month high and is leading the sector out of its doldrums.” He noted that low-interest rates worldwide and a jittery stock market were driving investors back to the safe haven of gold.
Gold is also jumping as the value of the dollar has begun to weaken slightly. Good news for all the apparel brands that have been negatively impacted by a strong dollar.
Retail analyst Adrienne Yih Tennant of Wolfe Research saw modest improvement in promotions in the kids’ and teens’ sector at the end of April. She said, “As AEO [American Eagle], ANF [Abercrombie & Fitch] and PLCE [Children’s Place] exit April, we believe promos suggest each is in good shape and on plan with inventories.”
With regards to Express, Tennant said, “We noted a pronounced increase in promo depth year-over-year in the latter half of April, suggesting a slow-down. April is a transitional month, and we would expect renewed momentum as demand picks up for the summer.”
Tennant said Coach Inc. was leading improvement in the handbag sector and was negative about Michael Kors. “We note our checks show KORS [Michael Kors] is promoting at deeper levels year-over-year to generate sales and remain concerned about a wholesale channel glut, potentially turning negative.”
The top-three performers for the month, according to the WWD Global Stock Tracker were Elizabeth Arden Inc., Sears Holdings Corp. and Iconix Brand Group Inc. Elizabeth Arden moved up 25 percent in April after it was made public that hedge funds Jabre Capital Partners and Blackrock Investment Management both increased their stakes in the company.
Sears was up 20 percent to approximately $18.06 as the company announced more store closings. Iconix also moved up 20 percent for the month of April to trade at roughly $8.92. Iconix announced early in the month that closed its previously announced $300 million credit facility.
The big losers for the month were The Gap Inc., J.C. Penney Co. Inc. and Ascena Retail Group Inc. Gap stock dropped 20 percent to trade near $23.53 amid a month of management changes as it sought to replace Stefan Larsson. The company also reported a 20 percent drop in visitors to its website.
J.C. Penney’s slid 15 percent to $9.66 for the month as the company was cited by an analyst as needing to close stores like its other department store peers. Ascena also slid 15 percent to $9.05, mostly in step with the poor sales news from the Gap chain.