Stocks a Sea of Red

U.S. equities took a beating Thursday as more gloomy clouds gathered over the economy’s horizon.

Footwear stocks did not escape unscathed as the benchmark indices sank on a bleak reading from the jobs market and a bearish economic report released by investment bank Goldman Sachs, in which analysts recommended clients set up short positions in the S&P 500 because Thursday’s soft U.S. reports “provides further evidence that weakness has extended into June.”

Investors also were coming off a disappointing Wednesday, when the Fed said it would leave short-term interest rates near zero until late 2014 and planned to extend through the end of the year a program known as “Operation Twist,” which aims to drive down long-term interest rates and reduce borrowing costs for businesses and households. 

Making matters worse was market rumor that Moody’s Investors Service would announce ratings downgrades on some of the world’s largest banks as early as Thursday evening.

By noon, the S&P 500 index had given up 11.68 points. By day’s end, it had lost more than 30 points to close 2.2 percent lower, at 1,325.51 points.

A basket of 30 footwear stocks tracked by Footwear News sank an average of 2 percent, as 27 counters ended the session in the red.

Under Armour Inc. slumped the most, finishing the day down 6.4 percent, at $98.47 a share.

Deckers Outdoor Corp. was the second-largest loser, closing 5.1 percent lower at $44.71.

The third-worst performer was K-Swiss Inc., which gave up 4.5 percent to close at $3.17.

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