NEW YORK — The WWD Composite Stock Index plunged for a second straight week, dropping 3.5 percent to 115.99 on Friday, as investors fretted over the effects of possible interest rate hikes on consumer spending. The S&P 500 declined 0.8 percent for the week, closing at 1,098.7.
Wall Street was also concerned about rising fuel prices. The worry is that consumer expenditures could wane, except at the high end, however, which has a experienced a lot of momentum.
Last Thursday, Neiman Marcus Group Inc., Nordstrom Inc. and Saks Fifth Avenue Enterprises posted stellar comparable-store sales, but only Neiman’s shares escaped the undertow of a receding stock market.
The sell-off took a toll on Nordstrom and Saks Fifth Avenue issues, even after they reported April comp gains of 14 and 4.3 percent, respectively.
By the week’s end, Nordstrom’s stock dropped 0.4 percent, or 13 cents, to close at $35.50, while Saks Fifth Avenue saw its stock fall 2.6 percent, or 37 cents, to finish at $14.03. Only Neiman’s shares managed to advance from the previous Friday, rising 0.6 percent, or 29 cents, to reach $48.93.
On the sales and earnings front, IT Holding, the Milanese parent of Gianfranco Ferré, reported a 290 percent first-quarter net profit gain to 26.1 million euros from 6.7 million euros in the prior year. At the average exchange rate, sales came in at $32.6 million compared with $7.2 million in the prior year.
Sales were pushed by all product categories. In particular, the eyewear division grew 42.6 percent, accounting for 10.3 percent of sales, compared with the same period in 2003, while clothing and accessories grew 10.2 percent.
On another front, analysts at Fitch Ratings affirmed their “AA” rating on Wal-Mart Stores Inc.’s senior notes as well as an “F1-plus” rating on the retailer’s commercial debt.
“The ratings reflect Wal-Mart’s dominant competitive position and solid record of profitable growth,” the ratings firm said. Shares of Wal-Mart ended the week down 5.4 percent to $53.90 at Friday’s close from $57 the prior week.
— Dan Burrows and Luisa Zargani
SOURCE: DATA NETWORKS, STANDARD & POOR’S