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Sector Snap: Retailers fall as outlooks get weaker

NEW YORK (AP) -- Retailers mostly traded lower Thursday, extending their slump after a group of companies dimmed their forecasts because of the shaky economy

Retailers including Wal-Mart Stores and Macy's have reported disappointing quarterly results this month and have issued bleaker outlooks as shoppers grapple with an uncertain economy. Target Corp. said Wednesday it expects to reach only the low end of its profit forecasts for the year. The companies said consumers are spending more money on big items like cars and home repairs and less on clothing and shoes.

Analysts offered an additional theory on Thursday: This fall's fashions just aren't that compelling.

Jeff Van Sinderen of B. Riley & Co. said Thursday that the companies are facing real economic pressures, as the business environment has become "extremely challenging" over the last month, but the biggest problem is the merchandise.

"In our opinion, the primary contributor to the recent slowdown in apparel retailing is simply a lack of great merchandise content," Van Sinderen wrote. He said there aren't many new, broadly appealing styles. That's especially true in the women's apparel field. Van Sinderen said discounts appear to be at unusually high levels for back-to-school season.

Janney Capital Markets analyst Adrienne Tennant also said the lack of new fashions could hurt sales.

Among stocks trading on the New York Stock Exchange and not affected by Thursday's outage on Nasdaq, Target fell $1.27 to $64.23. JC Penney Co. Inc. gave up 21 cents to $13.22. Aeropostale Inc. shares lost 47 cents, or 4 percent, to $10.96, while Abercrombie & Fitch Co. shares tumbled $8.25, or 18 percent, to $38.55, and Express Inc. stock declined 79 cents, or 4 percent, to $19.75.

L Brands Inc. said its fiscal second-quarter profit improved, but Wall Street was disappointed with the company's third-quarter outlook. Shares of the owner of Victoria's Secret and Bath & Body Works shed $1.41, or 2.4 percent, to $58.44.