NEW YORK — Thanks to big gains in stock prices on Thursday — due in large part to a broader market rally — the WWD Composite Stock Index edged out a gain for the week to finish 1,087.17 on Friday, up 1.2 percent from 1,073.77 a week ago.

In comparison, the S&P 500 moved up 0.5 percent throughout the week to 1,113.67 from 1,107.77 last week.

Wall Street’s attention was focused on Thursday’s August same-store sales results, which showed the weakest aggregate gain in more than a year, and caused several retailers to revise quarterly earnings estimates. Most notably, Wal-Mart said earnings per share in the third quarter was expected to come in at the low end of its prior forecast of 52 cents to 54 cents. The lowered guidance was announced following Wal-Mart’s report of a 0.1 percent gain in August comps at its discount stores. Wal-Mart guided September comps to be up 2 to 4 percent.

Shares of the world’s largest retailer finished the week down 0.6 percent to $53.25 from $53.56 last week.

On the specialty retail side, shares in American Eagle Outfitters closed the week up 4.8 percent to $36.06 from $34.40 a week ago after the company boosted its third-quarter earnings-per-share projection by about 10 cents to 56 cents to 58 cents. The company reported a staggering 26.6 percent rise in August comps at its U.S. American Eagle stores last week.

Chico’s FAS, however, reported a weaker-than-expected 3.6 percent rise in August comps. The results came one week after the company had guided for a 6 to 8 percent rise in August comps amid its second-quarter earnings report that showed double-digit gains in both profits and sales. The stock closed the week down 9.1 percent at $38.63 from $42.51 in the prior week.

Despite the generally weak comps, the S&P Retail Index surged 2.3 percent to 401.22 from 390.31 a week ago. The index’s improvement came amid a rally in the broader markets, which was based partly on improved oil prices and a news report that the arrest of Osama bin Laden “is closer than ever,” according to a U.S. counterterrorism official quoted in an Associated Press story.

This story first appeared in the September 7, 2004 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Meanwhile, shares of Kmart Holding Corp., which does not report monthly same-store sales, got a boost last week after the company said late last week that it will sell 45 stores — with the possibility of selling six more — to Sears, Roebuck & Co. for cash proceeds that could total as much as $589.7 million. Kmart closed the week up 6.3 percent to $82.08 from $77.20 last week.

Other gainers in the week included vendors Polo Ralph Lauren, up 5.2 percent to $38.45 from $36.55 in the prior week; Liz Claiborne, which increased 5.4 percent to $39.48 from $37.45 a week ago; and Nike, up 1.1 percent to $76.81 from $75.95 last week.

— Meredith Derby

WWD Composite Stock Index vs. S&P 500