Stocks popped higher at the market open on Thursday only to fade back into negative territory as the morning session dragged on.
The S&P 500 lost one point to trade at 2,063, and the Dow Jones Industrial average fell by five points to 17,706. The Nasdaq was slipping by 25 points to 4,734, led lower by Apple Inc., which was down by 2 percent. The S&P Retail ETF lost 21 cents to trade at $41.51.
Initial unemployment claims rose by 20,000 to 294,000, the highest level since February of 2015 and higher than the estimate of 270,000.
The retail sector was a scene of fashion hits and misses. The fashion hit today was Ralph Lauren Corp.
Ralph Lauren stock gained almost 2 percent to trade at $86.11 at the market open, but was lately struggling to stay in positive territory. The apparel brand delivered fourth-quarter earnings of 88 cents per share, beating the FactSet estimate of 83 cents. Sales for the quarter were $1.87 billion, which also topped the FactSet estimate for $1.85 billion. Sales increased at the Ralph Lauren stores, but decreased at department stores. The company is in the beginning stages of a reorganization that is being headed by new chief executive officer Stefan Larsson.
Kohl’s Corp. is the fashion miss this morning as the stock is getting slammed and falling over 10 percent to $34.54. Net income for the quarter fell to $58 million, or 31 cents a diluted share, down from $127 million, or 63 cents, a year ago. The FactSet estimate was for earnings of 37 cents a share. Sales for the three months ending April 30 decreased to $3.9 billion from $4.1 billion a year earlier. The FactSet estimate was for $4.1 billion. February started out well for Kohl’s ut then dropped off dramatically after that month.
Nordstrom Inc. shareholders decided not to wait until the company reports its earnings after the close and the stock began to sell off by over 2 percent to $44.27.
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is going head-to-head with Amazon and offering free two-day shipping in a program called “ShippingPass.” Amazon Prime memberships cost $99 a year, but offers free two-day shipping. Wal-Mart will rely on its distribution centers and then also tap into regional carriers. It’s a shift away from FedEx, the main Wal-Mart distributor. Wal-Mart stock is rising by 40 cents to sell at $66.81.