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Retail Stocks Gain, S&P 500 Hits New High

Dow slips modestly as federal employees return to work.

Retail stocks pushed higher as the federal government got back to work today and the fear of a debt default passed.

The S&P 500 Retailing Industry Group increased 0.7 percent, or 5.68 points, to 855.66, as the Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped fractionally, falling 2.18 points to 15,371.65.

The S&P 500 gained 0.7 percent, or 11.61 points, to 1,733.15 — the index’s best close ever. Among the fashion stocks gaining ground were Coldwater Creek Inc., up 14.3 percent to $1.04; Hanesbrands Inc., 2.2 percent to $63.43; Ralph Lauren Corp., 1.9 percent to $161.68, and Macy’s Inc., 1.5 percent to $44.46.

A deeply divided Washington cut a deal Wednesday to reopen the government after more than two weeks and to raise the debt ceiling until Feb. 7. If the nation’s borrowing authority hadn’t been increased, there was a chance the U.S. would have defaulted on Treasury bonds, a bedrock of the global financial system.

In Europe, markets were broadly flat.

The FTSE 100 in London edged up 0.1 percent to 6,576.16. The DAX in Frankfurt and the FTSE MIB in Milan both edged down 0.4 percent, to 8,811.98 and to 19,198.10, respectively, and the CAC 40 in Frankfurt retreated 0.1 percent to 4,239.64.

The euro traded at $1.35, while the pound fetched $1.60, and the Swiss franc equaled $1.09. Retail and luxury stocks were mostly up, with the day’s biggest gainers including Yoox.com, up 2.2 percent to 24.99 euros; Ferragamo, 2.2 percent to 25.13 euros; Safilo Group, 3.8 percent to 13.85 euros; Carrefour SA, 3.1 percent to 27.64 euros, and Burberry Group, 2.7 percent to 15.03 pounds.

Among the stocks that lost ground were Hermès International, which fell 1.6 percent to 253.50 euros, and Mulberry Group, 3.8 percent to 9.70 pounds.