Consumer stocks closed solidly lower Wednesday as Macy’s led a rout in retail. The department store chain slashed its profit forecast and reported a steep drop in earnings.
Macy’s dropped 16.2 percent. Office Depot sank 40.5 percent and Staples slumped 18.4 percent after a judge blocked their plans to merge.
ON WALL STREET: At the close, the Dow Jones industrial average was down 217.2 points, about 1.2 percent, to 17,711.1. The Standard & Poor’s 500 slipped 19.9 points, about 1 percent, to 2,064.5. The Nasdaq composite index gave up 49.2 points, about 1 percent, to 4,760.7.
OIL PRICES: Oil prices, however, reversed their fall. Benchmark U.S. crude was up $1.41 to $46.07 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. In London, Brent crude, the benchmark for international oil prices, gained $1.89 to $47.41 a barrel.
ANALYST’S OPINION: “Things seem a little quiet in Asia-Pacific as markets take a breather from some recent volatility,” analyst Stephen Innes, a senior trader at OANDA Asia Pacific, said in a commentary. “The danger of these calmer waters is always that sudden shock of a tidal wave from the Fed, China or another central bank tinkering with its monetary policies. For now, it looks like markets are heading for a midweek nap.”