Equity markets continued their roller-coaster ride Wednesday as worries about the U.S. economy continued to wreak havoc on investor sentiment.
Footwear stocks posted gains, however, after being mostly down on Tuesday, as Congress finalized a key deal to raise the debt ceiling and avoid a U.S. default.
Thirty companies tracked by Footwear News saw an average gain of 2.2 percent on the New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq, outperforming benchmark indices, which rose less than 1 percent. At Wednesday’s close, the S&P 500 stock index rose 6.29 points, or 0.5 percent, to 1,260.34. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 29.82 points, or 0.3 percent, to 11,896.44, and the Nasdaq rose 23.83 points, or 0.9 percent, to 2,693.07.
Six of the firms tracked by FN closed lower at the end of trading, including Shoe Carnival Inc. and Rocky Brands Inc. Shares of Heelys Inc. lost the most, slipping 1.8 percent.
Firms that closed up saw increases of between 0.1 percent and 9.8 percent. The top gainer was Bakers Footwear Group, which closed 9.8 percent higher, at $1.01.
Finish Line Inc. and Kenneth Cole Productions Inc. came in second and third, finishing up 5.8 percent and 5.1 percent, respectively. Kenneth Cole’s shares hit as much as $13.88 in mid-day trading after the firm announced second-quarter earnings in line with analysts’ expectations.
While the largest indices rebounded — albeit modestly — on Wednesday, experts warned that investors could have renewed fears about the debt ceiling deal creating further headwinds for growth.
The markets have already been beset by bad data in recent days, when the S&P 500 shed more than 6 percent in its longest string of declines since October 2008. Markets also fell in Asia and Europe, due to growing investor concerns about the sovereign debt crisis.
U.S. investors will get a better read on the economy on Friday, when the U.S. government updates July payroll figures, although recent reports on the nation’s gross domestic product and consumer spending have done little to ease the outlook.
“The macro data hasn’t been great. Unemployment has to go down and housing needs to recover,” said Jeff Van Sinderen, analyst at B. Riley & Co. “It’s a domino effect affecting consumer confidence, and consumers are now pulling back just out of fear.”