Word that U.S. employers cut another 131,000 jobs last month pressured stocks Friday, though a late-day rally helped retailers make up some of the ground lost.
The S&P Retail Index ended down 0.5 percent, or 2.11 points, at 414.69. The sector fell as much as 1.9 percent following the Labor Department jobs report, which detailed payroll losses that were more than twice as severe as expected.
Among the decliners were Aéropostale Inc., down 3.9 percent to $24.86; American Eagle Outfitters Inc., 3 percent to $12.46; New York & Co. Inc., 3 percent to $2.30; AnnTaylor Stores Corp., 2.2 percent to $16.52; J.C. Penney Co. Inc., 1.4 percent to $21.81, and Target Corp., 1 percent to $52.32.
Retailers, which, as a group, posted lackluster comparable-store sales Thursday, are expected to continue to feel the bite of the weak job market and a general retreat from credit on the part of consumers.
The Federal Reserve said Friday that outstanding consumer credit fell at an annual rate of 0.7 percent in June from May, the 20th decline over the last 23 months. Included in that is a 6.5 percent drop in outstanding revolving credit, which includes credit cards.
Of the 172 stocks tracked by WWD, 85 gained last week, while six stayed flat and 81 lost ground.
Overall, retail stocks rose 2.4 percent last week, but ended ahead just 0.9 percent for the year so far.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average dipped 0.2 percent, or 21.42 points, to 10,653.56 Friday, making for a 1.8 percent rise for the week and a gain of just 2.2 percent for the year to date.
International markets also rose last week, with the strongest performances from the CAC 40, which gained 2 percent in Paris, and the Hang Sang Index, up 3.1 percent in Hong Kong.