Business briefs for March 28


S&P misses record over Europe worries

NEW YORK — Investors just can’t get past Europe.

Renewed worries about the region’s debt crisis weighed on the Dow Jones industrial average on Wednesday, and held the Standard & Poor’s 500 index back from reaching an all-time high.

Investors are watching to see if Cyprus can shore up its banking system. They are also concerned about Italy, where political parties are struggling to form a new government.

The Dow fell 33.49 points to close at 14,526.16, a loss of 0.2 percent. It dropped as many as 120 points in morning trading then spent the rest of the day climbing back.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index slipped 0.92 to 1,562.85, less than three points short of its all-time high set in October 2007.

Bad news from Europe and good news from the U.S. have tossed the stock market around over the past week. Stocks slumped Monday as Cyprus scrambled to rescue its banks. They rallied Tuesday on stronger home prices and a jump in factory orders.

“There are still plenty of worries about (Europe’s) banking system,” said J.J. Kinahan, chief derivatives strategist at TD Ameritrade. “But the U.S. really is on a nice little roll.”

Kinahan said he thought the S&P 500 could make another run at its record high today.

Cyprus is preparing to reopen its banks today after a nearly two-week shutdown. An international bailout requires people with large bank balances to help pay for the rescue.

Yoga pants returned over their sheerness

NEW YORK — (AP) No “downward-facing dog” is required.

Lululemon said Wednesday that no demonstrations of yoga or any other positions are needed to return the pricey black yoga pants that the company pulled from shelves last week after finding that they were too sheer.

“We do not require guests to demonstrate the sheerness of their bottoms,” said Sari Martin, who works for communications firm ICR and spoke on behalf of Lululemon.

The Vancouver-based yoga gear maker’s statement comes a day after a New York Post report that was widely circulated by the media recounted one woman’s tale of being asked by sales staff to bend over to prove that the yoga pants she was trying to return were sheer.

Martin would not comment on the specific instance recounted by the Post, but said Wednesday that this is not standard policy for Lululemon staffers. To the contrary, she said that people who bought the black “Luon” yoga pants, which cost $72 to $98, since March 1, either online or in store, can return them for a full refund, “no questions asked.”

The hubbub comes a week after Lululemon said it was recalling its black “Luon” yoga pants, which account for about 17 percent of all women’s pants in its stores, because their material was too sheer. The pants are made from a combination of nylon and Lycra fibers.

The company still hasn’t determined the cause of the problem.

And officials have declined to say when the items would be back in its stores. But the company has added more stringent controls and is diversifying its suppliers to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

The flap is a blemish for a company that has been a superstar in the athletic world. Lululemon has grown to 211 stores, including 135 stores in the U.S. and 51 in Canada, as its yoga and other workout clothing has gained popularity with men and women. Its devoted fans helped Lululemon, founded in 1998, become a $1.4 billion business.

But the pants snafu isn’t the only quality issue the chain has had, though. The company also has had sheerness problems with swimsuits and light-colored pants.

RBC Capital Markets analyst Howard Tubin said that while the sheer pants are an “odd” situation, it’s just a growing pain for the rapidly expanding company.

“They tried to get in front of this by not letting the merchandise stay on store shelves and they’re working with vendors to try to figure out how this happened,” he said. “They’re probably handling it the best way they can.”

Shares fell 76 cents to $62.27.

 

Rules for posting comments