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The cost of insuring the debt for Macy’s and three other major US department stores swelled on Thursday, indicating that jitters over disappointing quarterly sales results were not isolated to the equities market.

Traders sent the spread on credit default swaps that protect Macy’s debt against default for five years up 0.251 percentage points (25.1 basis points) to 252 bps. It was the largest increase in a month and a half, and one of the four biggest rises over the past 12 months, according to Bloomberg data.

Nordstrom, the upmarket department store chain, faced a 14.4 bps increase in its five-year CDS spread to 154 bps — also the sharpest advance since March 20. Spreads were also higher at Dillard’s and Kohl’s, two other US retail chains.

Equities investors, meanwhile, shunned the stocks. Macy’s and Dillard’s both tumbled about 17 per cent, while Kohl’s was down 7.9 per cent. Nordstrom, which posted its first-quarter figures after the closing bell, was off by 10.8 per cent from Wednesday’s close thanks to declines in regular and after-hours sessions.

The growing angst came after the four retailers on Thursday disclosed declines in like-for-like sales at the start of 2017, adding fuel to Wall Street’s concerns that consumers are more quickly shifting spending away from bricks-and-mortar stores.

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2017. All rights reserved.
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