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U.S. Stocks Gain, Europe Falls

Investors largely brush off bank downgrades.

Investors shrugged off a raft of bank downgrades from debt watchdog Moody’s Investors Service and pushed stocks higher today.

The S&P Retail Index gained 0.6 percent, or 3.64 points, to 609.21 as the Dow Jones Industrial Average increased 0.5 percent, or 67.21 points, to 12,640.78. Among those perking up were Michael Kors Holdings Ltd., up 3.7 percent to $42.86; Fifth & Pacific Cos. Inc., 2.8 percent to $10.73; The Bon-Ton Stores Inc., 2.7 percent to $6.57; VF Corp., 2.6 percent to $143.56, and Lululemon Athletica Inc., 2.4 percent to $64.69.

Moody’s downgraded 15 global banks including Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, J.P. Morgan Chase and Credit Suisse, but the action was widely expected and not as stringent as some feared. Europe’s indices all ended the day in the red as investors kept their focus on the still-worrying debt crisis and the state of the region’s economy. The Ifo Business Climate Index in Germany continued to fall in June — dropping to 105.3 from 106.9 in May — although retailers were feeling more optimistic.

The DAX in Frankfurt closed down 1.3 percent to 6,263.25, while the FTSE 100 in London was down 0.95 percent to 5,513.69. The CAC 40 in Paris finished down 0.8 percent to 3,090.90 and the FTSE MIB in Milan lost 0.7 percent to 13,662.80.

The leaders of Germany, France, Italy and Spain met in Rome before next week’s summit on Europe’s financial crisis, and supported a plan to launch a 130 billion euro, or $168 billion growth package. The sum is worth around one percent of Europe’s GDP, but wasn’t enough to cheer investors.

The decliners included Safilo Group, down 5.3 percent to 4.68 euros; Ferragamo, 3.9 percent to 16.61 euros; Swatch Group, 3.9 percent to 64.35 Swiss francs, and Richemont, 3 percent to 52.30 Swiss francs.

The few that registered gains included Brunello Cucinelli, up 1.7 percent to 11.25 euros; Carrefour, 0.1 percent to 14.43 euros, and Hennes & Mauritz, up 2 percent to 246.20 Swedish krona.

The pound traded for $1.57 against the dollar Friday, while the euro traded for $1.26, the Swiss franc for $1.05 and the Swedish krona for 14 cents.