SEE-SAW AFTERNOON FOR DOW

NEW YORK — Apparel and retail stocks Thursday avoided the worst of the stock market’s dramatic swings, which at one point deflated the Dow Jones Industrial Average almost 400 points.
However, an energetic late-afternoon rally helped the Dow regain much of what it had lost earlier and close down 97.52 points at 9,389.48, just north of bear territory and 17.8 percent off its 52-week high. The Nasdaq, after heavy tech-driven losses in the past week, managed to pick up 67.48 points before the closing bell to end the day at 1,897.71. Specialty retailers losing ground Thursday included Gadzooks, which fell $1.38 to close at $2.59; Talbots, which deflated 72 cents to $41.89, and Hot Topic, which lost $1.06 and closed at $25.56. Not everyone was in the losers column, though. Gap managed to pick up 16 cents and close at $23.29, while Pacific Sunwear was up 63 cents, closing at $28.81.
Among department stores, May Co. closed down $1.63, to $36.37; Federated Department Stores lost 71 cents, closing at $42.85 and Sears dipped 83 cents to close at $34.60. J.C. Penney closed down 89 cents to $15.10 and the usually robust Kohl’s dropped $4.19 to close at $57.20.
Among discounters, Wal-Mart was down $1.40 to close at $46.91 and Target gave up $2.37 to end up at $34.50.
Regional discounter Ames Department Stores closed down 80 cents at $2.21 a share. Reporting a $152.2 million loss for the fourth quarter, much of it attributable to special charges, chief executive Joseph Ettore, offered the sobering message that the firm expects the current difficult economic climate to “continue throughout 2001.”