NEW YORK — A sluggish monthly jobs report from the government failed to hamper retail stock performance during the shortened holiday week, thanks to what was seen as a batch of better-than-expected monthly same-store sales reports on Thursday.

The WWD Stock Index added 1.2 percent to close at 1,135.53 on Friday, its third consecutive week of gains, while the S&P 500 dropped 0.2 percent, finishing the week at 1,196.02.

The Labor Department said on Friday the economy added just 78,000 nonfarm payrolls in May, short of analysts’ estimates for roughly 185,000 jobs. Comparatively, a robust 274,000 jobs were added in April.

On the bright side, the weaker-than-expected report has fueled investor beliefs that the Federal Reserve Board will hold off on another increase in short-term interest rates, since the employment numbers show the economy could be lacking momentum.

“To the extent the Fed does move to the sidelines and eases up some, the retailing stocks could at some point become, again, in vogue to the extent that the market begins to discount yet another economic expansion that, as per usual, begins with the consumer,” Bob Buchanan, an analyst at A.G. Edwards & Sons, wrote in a Thursday research report following May sales.

The month’s comps — although showing a mix of positive and negative results — demonstrated that one of the coldest Mays in years across the country, according to SDI/WeatherTrends, didn’t altogether stop consumers from shopping, especially at specialty apparel retailers Wet Seal Inc. and Bebe Stores Inc. Analysts said differentiated product from the two retailers contributed to their strong results.

Shares of the two companies reflected investor optimism at week’s end, as Wet Seal popped 28.6 percent to $5.39 during the week and Bebe shares closed up 5.6 percent at $41.54.

On Thursday, the S&P Retail Index rose to a five-month high of 445.69 but slid 1.4 percent on Friday to 439.65. The index added 0.5 percent in the just-completed week, however.

This story first appeared in the June 6, 2005 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Weekly % Changes
(ending June 3)
Largest Gainers
Largest Losers
  Close Change   Close Change
Wet Seal 5.39 28.64
Guess
15.93 -5.91

Oxford

41.75 18.44
Goody’s
6.81 -5.15
Dress Barn 20.41 13.58
Wilsons Leather
5.53 -4.66
A&F 65.08 12.99
Deb Shops
29.62 -3.99
Tarrant 2.80 12.90
Family Dollar
24.67 -3.44
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