The U.S. stock market opened the day in negative territory, but by midday the losses were trimmed. Nationwide retail sales were better than expected in April, but the first quarter overall was tough for some big retailers.
The S&P 500 was flat at 2,063, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was lower by 14 points to trade at 17,705 and the Nasdaq was rising by 12 points to 4,750. The S&P Retail ETF was higher by 7 cents to $41.67.
U.S. retail sales rose 1.3 percent in April; excluding autos, gas, food and building materials, they rose by 0.9 percent. Online retail sales jumped by 2.1 percent
J.C. Penney stock declined by as much as 9 percent in early trading, but managed to trim those losses to gain 2 percent and trade at $7.97 following the company’s first-quarter earnings report. Initially investors focused on the drop in sales, but then reversed course as they saw that losses had been cut. The net loss for the quarter was $69 million, or 22 cents a diluted share, a 55 percent improvement over last year’s loss of $144 million, or 49 cents, a year ago. This actually beat the FactSet estimate for a loss of 38 cents per share. Total sales for the three months ending April 30 decreased 1.6 percent to $2.81 billion from $2.85 billion a year earlier.
Nordstrom Inc. didn’t fare so well. The luxury retailer saw its stock fall 10 percent to $40.46 following earnings that were released after the market closed on Thursday. The retailer said first-quarter net earnings fell 64 percent to $46 million, compared with net earnings of $128 million in the year-ago period. Total sales increased 2.5 percent to $3.2 billion, versus $3.1 billion a year ago, while comparable sales decreased 1.7 percent. Nordstrom suggested that Amazon was having an effect on the apparel industry.
Tiffany & Co. stock was losing 7 cents to sell at $66.30 after the company said its chief financial officer Ralph Nicoletti would be leaving to join consumer products company Newell Brands Inc. The new role is more in line with Nicoletti’s previous work at Kraft. Tiffany reports its earnings on May 25. The stock has tumbled 23 percent over the past year as the company suffered from the effects of a strong dollar that curtailed tourist spending.