Retailers lead US stocks to modest day of losses

Retailers lead US stocks to modest day of losses

Retailers led a modest slide in US stocks on Tuesday as the market eased back for the second day in a row, pulling it further below record highs set late last week.

Macy's sank more than 8% after warning that its profit margins could be weaker than the company had forecast earlier.

Several other retailers, including Conn's and Casey's General Stores, also slumped after issuing disappointing quarterly results or outlooks.

Banks and other financial companies also posted losses as the yield on the 10-year Treasury slipped to 2.14%, the lowest level since November. Lower bond yields mean lower interest rates on loans, which hurt banks' profits.

Energy stocks notched the biggest gain as crude oil prices rebounded.

"This is a market that's taking a breather and is prepared to move, the question is in which direction?" said Quincy Krosby, a market strategist at Prudential Financial.

"Perhaps the move is going to be, in the short term, a pullback and perhaps that's another reason we have money going into the Treasury markets as a hedge."

The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 6.77 points, or 0.3%, to 2,429.33.

The Dow Jones industrial average slid 47.81 points, or 0.2%, to 21,136.23.

The Nasdaq composite index lost 20.63 points, or 0.3%, to 6,275.06.

Small-company stocks fared better than the rest of the market. The Russell 2000 gave up 1.55 points, or 0.1%, to 1,394.90.

Despite the two-day market slide, the major indexes remain near their most recent record highs set on Friday.

For the second day in a row, trading got off to a subdued start as investors sized up the latest batch of company earnings and economic news.

The labour department provided some encouragement early on, reporting that job openings rose 4.5 % in April to more than six million, the most since December 2000, when the government began tracking the data. Still, hiring fell 4.8%.

On Friday, the government reported that employers added just 138,000 jobs last month, about one-third below last year's average monthly gain.

Investors found little encouragement in the latest crop of outlooks from several big retailers on Tuesday.

In a presentation to investors, Macy's chief financial officer Karen Hoguet said the company's gross margins could fall more than Macy's expected a couple of months ago, with the first half of the year especially weak.

The company continues to grapple with too much holiday inventory and a lot of discounts on beauty products.

Macy's was the biggest decliner in the S&P 500, losing 1.96 dollars, or 8.2%, to 21.90 dollars.

Other department store chains also fell. Kohl's slid 2.19 dollars, or 5.8%, to 35.73 dollars. Nordstrom gave up 1.51 dollars, or 3.6%, to 40.14 dollars.

Conn's sank 9.1% after the furniture and mattress retailer issued a disappointing second-quarter outlook for sales at its established stores. The stock declined 1.73 dollars to 17.15 dollars.

Casey's General Stores slid 8.4% after the convenience store operator's latest quarterly report card fell short of analysts' expectations. The stock fell 9.84 dollars to 106.66 dollars.

Not all retailers had a bad day.

G-III Apparel Group climbed 15.2% after the owner of Wilsons Leather and GH Bass stores posted better-than-expected quarterly results. The company also raised its estimates for the year. G-III Apparel shares added 3.03 dollars to 22.92 dollars.

A weak report on retail sales in the 19-country eurozone weighed on European stock indexes.

Germany's DAX was down 1%, while France's CAC 40 was 0.7% lower. Britain's FTSE 100 was flat ahead of the UK election on Thursday. In Asia, Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 dipped nearly 1.0%, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng edged up 0.5%. South Korean markets were closed for a holiday.

In energy futures trading, crude oil prices rebounded after an early slide.

Benchmark US crude gained 79 cents, or 1.7%, to close at 48.19 dollars a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, added 65 cents, or 1.3%, to finish at 50.12 dollars a barrel in London.

Wholesale gasoline rose two cents, or 1.1%, to 1.55 dollars per gallon. Heating oil added a penny to 1.47 dollars per gallon. Natural gas gained six cents, or 2%, to 3.04 dollars per 1,000 cubic feet.

Among metals, gold added 14.80 dollars, or 1.2%, to 1,297.50 dollars per ounce. Silver rose 13 cents to 17.71 dollars per ounce, while copper lost a penny to 2.55 dollars per pound.

In currency trading, the dollar weakened to 109.54 yen from 110.49 yen on Monday. The euro increased to 1.1271 dollars from 1.1255 dollars.


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