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CarMax, Darden pull down S&P Consumer Discretionary index in December

The S&P 500 Consumer Discretionary index posted a 2.8% gain in December 2019, compared to the 3% growth in the overall S&P 500 index, according to data compiled by S&P Global Market Intelligence.

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Three of the 10 worst-performing companies in the month were from the consumer discretionary sector: CarMax Inc., Darden Restaurants Inc. and Lennar Corp.

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Automotive retailer CarMax's stock fell 9.9% in December. Since the company posted third-quarter results that were below analysts' expectations Dec. 20, its shares have steadily declined.

Darden Restaurants, whose shares decreased 8% during the month, reported Dec. 19 that adjusted EPS for the second quarter grew year over year and beat Street estimates. Despite the performance, the Olive Garden parent reaffirmed its forecast for fiscal 2020. Its shares declined 6.3% to $109.03 after the results were announced.

Homebuilder Lennar posted a loss of 6.5% in December, while L Brands Inc. saw its shares decline 5.3% despite being one of the best consumer discretionary performers in November. Stocks of the Victoria's Secret owner fluctuated throughout the month but closed at $18.12 on Dec. 31.

D.R. Horton Inc., the largest homebuilder by volume in the U.S., recorded a 4.7% decline during the month.

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The best performer in the consumer discretionary sector was Wynn Resorts Ltd., which posted a total return of 14.9% in December. Shares of the casino operator jumped to $132.27 on Dec. 12 after Reuters reported that Chinese President Xi Jinping plans to roll out new policies that will diversify Macao's gaming economy.

Under Armour Inc.'s stock increased 14.3%, recovering from being the third-worst performer in the S&P 500 Consumer Discretionary index in November. Its shares steadily climbed during the month and peaked at $21.80 on Dec. 26.

Department store chain Macy's Inc., which posted a gain of 13.6%, saw its stock increase to $16.53 on Dec. 18 after the company priced its upsized tender offer to purchase up to $525 million of its outstanding debt.

V.F. Corp. advanced 13.2% during the month. Shares of the apparel retailer steadily increased in December and reached $99.96 on Dec. 27.

The U.S. and China reached a phase-one agreement in their trade war Dec. 13, and President Donald Trump said his administration will no longer impose additional 15% tariffs on $160 billion of Chinese goods, which include consumer products. In turn, China suspended the additional 10% and 5% tariffs on some U.S. imports and eventually released its second list of U.S. products exempted from duties.

Cruise operator Carnival Corp. & PLC rose 12.8% during the month. The company's stock jumped 7.6% on Dec. 20 after it posted fourth-quarter earnings that exceeded analysts' expectations.