U.S. Stocks Mostly Slide as Retail Suffering Continues

Specialist Charles Boeddinghaus, center, works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on Friday. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
Specialist Charles Boeddinghaus, center, works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on Friday. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

U.S. stocks are wobbling in midday trading Friday as retailers continue to report plunging first-quarter sales. The price of oil is slipping after a string of recent gains. A two-day losing streak has stocks close to their third straight week of losses.

KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones Industrial Average gave up 41 points, or 0.2 percent, to 17,679 as of 12:15 p.m. Eastern time. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell 4 points, or 0.2 percent, to 2,060. The Nasdaq composite index rose 11 points, or 0.2 percent, to 4,747. The Dow is lower this week and the S&P 500 and Nasdaq are holding on to tiny gains.

RETAIL WRECKAGE: Nordstrom slashed its annual projections and said a key measure of sales fell for the first time in almost seven years. Nordstrom’s stock tumbled $5.15, or 11.4 percent, to $40.07. J.C. Penney’s and Dillard’s also reported results that came up short of analyst estimates.

Retailers have seen their stocks plunge this week following a series of weak reports. Nordstrom is down about 17 percent, while Macy’s has fallen 15 percent and Kohl’s is down about 11 percent.

SILVER LINING: The Commerce Department said total retail sales in the U.S. improved in April, suggesting spending might have rebounded after a weak first quarter. Retail sales slipped in March as car sales decreased.

Retail sales have climbed 3 percent over the last year. But the report contained still more bad news for department stores: online and catalogue shopping jumped 10 percent from a year ago, and sales at department stores are down almost 2 percent.

HANGING UP: Phone companies and consumer stocks fell the most in morning trading. Those stocks had traded higher on Thursday. AT&T lost 28 cents to $39.27, and Verizon sank 33 cents to $51.14. Among consumer companies, Wal-Mart gave up $1.50, or 2.2 percent, to $65.35, and Procter & Gamble shed 63 cents to $81.78.

Tech stocks made small gains after they took losses a day ago.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. oil fell 50 cents, or 1.1 percent, to $46.20 a barrel in New York, while Brent crude, the benchmark for international oil prices, lost 29 cents to $47.79 a barrel in London.

BURGER BOUNTY: Shake Shack’s profit and sales beat estimates. The burger chain raised its estimates for sales and said it will open more stores than it previously planned. The stock gained $1.72, or 5 percent, to $35.98.

FEELING CHIPPER: Graphics chip and processor maker Nvidia surpassed Wall Street forecasts in the first quarter, and its stock jumped $4.96, or 14 percent, to $40.53.

OVERSEAS: Germany’s DAX rose 0.9 percent and the CAC-40 in France gained 0.3 percent. The FTSE 100 in Britain was 0.6 percent higher. Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 255 index lost 1.4 percent and South Korea’s Kospi shed 0.5 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng fell 1 percent.

BONDS, CURRENCIES: U.S. government bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note dipped to 1.72 percent from 1.76 percent. The euro fell to $1.1299 from $1.1373, and the dollar slid to 109.05 yen from 109.14 yen.

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