New York Report: Retailers lead a broad drop on Wall Street

US STOCKS fell in a broad sell-off yesterday, with major indexes hitting session lows in afternoon trading, led by losses in the retail sector after disappointing results from Staples and TJX Companies.

All 10 primary S&P 500 sector indexes fell, and nearly three-fourths of Nasdaq-listed names were down for the day.

The S&P 500’s top five decliners were all retail stocks, including TJX, down 7.6 per cent, after the owner of off-price chain stores TJ Maxx and Marshalls reported lower-than-expected quarterly revenue.

Staples tumbled 12.6 per cent after the office supply retailer posted first-quarter earnings and forecast a decline in quarterly sales. The S&P retail index fell one per cent.

Other decliners were Urban Outfitters, down 8.8 per cent; Best Buy, off 5.6 per cent, and PetSmart, down 4.7 per cent.

But Home Depot shares rose 1.9 per cent after the company’s chief financial officer said sales in May were “robust”, taking the sting out of its disappointing first-quarter results due to the severe winter.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 137.55 points or 0.83 per cent, to end at 16,374.31. The S&P 500 dropped 12.25 points or 0.65 per cent, to finish at 1,872.83. The Nasdaq Composite slid 28.92 points or 0.7 per cent, to close at 4,096.89.

Equities have pulled back more than one per cent since the Dow and the S&P 500 hit record closing highs on 13 May as investors look for signs confirming an acceleration in the US economy that many had hoped to see.