Wall Street gives up gains

A surge in retailers fails to stop the S&P 500 slipping into the red.

Despite some upbeat housing data earlier in the day and decent earnings from retailers Target, Lowe’s and Abercrombie & Fitch, the major US stock indices have slid into negative territory deep into the trading day.

The Russell 2000 hit an all-time high earlier today, and remains up on the day at the time of writing, but with under an hour to the close on Wall Street, the Dow Jones was down 0.05% and the S&P 500 was off by 0.09%. The S&P 500 has now broken above its all-time closing record before dropping back again every day this week.

Support came from the retail sector, where some big name companies have made big gains. Target rose 6.8% after reporting better-than-expected fourth-quarter earnings, while Abercrombie & Fitch jumped 11% after also reporting forecast-beating profit and announcing a $150 million share buy-back. Teen clothier Aeropostale advanced 6.2%, after Reuters and Bloomberg reported the company is working with Barclays to explore options for raising capital from private-equity firms.

Fellow retailer JC Penney reports after the market close tonight. Tomorrow we have durable goods orders for last month and jobless claims for last week. 

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