It could be choppy day on Wall Street following Friday’s oil price spike-induced rally as investors gauge possible outcomes from this week’s Federal Reserve Board meeting.
Also of concern was a drop in crude oil this morning below $40 a barrel.
As a result, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.2 percent to 17,184 out of the gate while the S&P 500 declined 0.2 percent to 2,017 and the Nasdaq also dropped 0.2 percent to 4,734. The S&P 500 Retailing Group Index dropped 0.3 percent to 1,237.
The retail decliners included Bebe Stores Inc. with a 6.2 percent drop to 60 cents; Inter Parfums Inc. with a 5.2 percent fall to $26.82 after reporting lower quarterly sales this morning; Finish Line Inc. with a 2.5 percent decline to $18.73; Iconix Brand Group Inc. with a 1.6 percent drop to $8.59, and Stein Mart Inc.’s 1.6 percent decrease to $7.78.
Among the top gainers were Zumiez Inc.’s 1.4 percent increase to $19.27; Nu Skin Enterprises Inc. with a 1.7 percent gain to $35.83; Citi Trends Inc. with a 1.8 percent increase to $17.85, and Aéropostale Inc. with a 6.9 percent gain to 48 cents.
In Europe, all the major indices were trading up. In Asia, indices all wrapped up the day in the green. The Nikkei 225 closed the day with a 1.7 percent gain to 17,223 while the Hang Seng finished up 1.2 percent to 20,435. In China, the Shanghai Index closed the day up 1.8 percent to 2,859.
In the U.S., traders were also weighing a report from Morgan Stanley analysts who lowered the 12-month target of the S&P 500 to 2,050 from 2,175 due to concerns of a slowing global economy. This follows a report last week from S&P Investment Advisory Services noting that even as “U.S. recession anxiety continues to subside,” low oil prices and a strong dollar will continue to impact the bottom line of American companies. S&P analysts expect the S&P 500 earnings per share aggregate to show a 7.6 percent decline this year.
In a note to clients this morning, Telsey Advisory Group said that with “the majority of apparel companies continuing to face [foreign exchange] headwinds as a result of the strengthening [U.S. dollar], as well as margin pressure from soft sell-through of cold weather-related categories, [the 2015 fourth quarter] proved to be challenging.”
“However, we believe strong brands that can connect with the consumer are winning the lion’s share of discretionary dollars and have held up for the most part,” the analysts said.
Fourth-quarter profits were eaten up by hefty markdowns. But pricing strength seems to be holding, which is key for retailers pushing out spring apparel. However, in a pricing survey by Eric Beder, equity analyst at Wunderlich Securities Inc., price points have not be stable across all the segments.
Beder said the survey results for March suggest “continued overall pricing strength in the teen retailing segment, while the surveyed universe within the contemporary segment continues to produce, at best, moderate to flat results.”