Consumer Cos Down as April Data, J.C. Penney, Nordstrom Weigh -- Consumer Roundup

Shares of retailers and other consumer-services companies ticked down after tepid April sales growth added to concerns raised by department stores earlier in the week.

Shares of J.C. Penney slid even after the chain posted a surprise quarterly profit, as it said sales at stores open a year or more declined. Shares of Nordstrom declined after the department store's sales missed Wall Street targets. The reports echoed similar fortunes for rivals Macy's and Kohl's on Thursday.

Retail sales rose 0.4% in April from the prior month, short of the 0.5% gain predicted by economists. The data indicate that Americans are still spending, just not in bricks-and-mortar stores, said Quincy Krosby, chief market strategist at Prudential Financial. "It isn't as if Americans are holding back in terms of spending overall," Ms. Krosby said, noting that auto sales, though down from year-earlier levels, remain historically high. Overall, "the [stock] market has been resilient in the face of Washington-based headlines," said Ms. Krosby. "What has hurt the market are the weaker-than consensus reports coming from the brick-and-mortar stores, and even there the market has been holding up." The University of Michigan said Friday that its preliminary reading of consumer sentiment was 97.7 in May, from April's final reading of 97.

-Rob Curran,

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

May 12, 2017 16:41 ET (20:41 GMT)