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Wall Street Presses on to New Highs

Retail stocks inched up, as the Dow gained 0.4 percent.

Retail stocks inched up today, setting a new high along with the broader market.

The S&P 500 Retailing Industry Group advanced 0.1 percent, or 0.45 points, to 728.13, as the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 0.4 percent, or 50.22 points, to 14,447.29.

Both indices closed at new all-time highs.

The fashion industry gainers included Sears Holdings Corp., up 2.9 percent to $51.11; Avon Products Inc., 2.2 percent to $20.19; Kohl’s Corp., 1.6 percent to $47.05; Target Corp., 1.5 percent to $67.34, and Chico’s FAS Inc., 1.5 percent to $17.92.

Running countertrend was Michael Kors Holdings Ltd., which fell 5.5 percent to $55. It was a busy day for the stock with more than 11 million shares trading hands, better than twice the average daily volume for the past three months.

European stock markets closed relatively flat, under pressure from a disappointing reading of the Chinese economy and a downgrade for Italy’s credit rating.

Over the weekend, official data from China showed that inflation reached a 10-month high in February, while industrial production growth slowed in the first two months of 2013, compared with the same period last year.

And on Friday, Fitch Ratings downgraded Italy’s sovereign credit rating to “BBB-plus” from “A-minus,” pointing to the country’s recession and the fragmented parliamentary election results last month.

Milan’s FTSE MIB fell 0.7 percent to 16,091.98, followed by the CAC 40 in Paris, which was down 0.1 percent to 3,836.27, and the DAX in Frankfurt, which edged down 0.03 percent to 7,984.29.

The FTSE 100 in London was up 0.3 percent to 6,503.63 — hitting a five-year high — and buoyed by bounces in stocks such as SABMiller, Vodafone Group, and British American Tobacco.

The euro traded at $1.30 against the dollar, while the pound traded at $1.49, and the Swiss franc traded at $1.05.

The retail and luxury stock gainers included Hugo Boss, up 1.6 percent to 91.70 euros; Burberry Group, 1.1 percent to 14.33 pounds; Ferragamo, 2.4 percent to 22.50 euros, and Safilo Group, 1.7 percent to 9.97 euros.

Among the stocks that lost ground were Mulberry Group, down 5 percent to 12.30 pounds; Yoox.com, 1.6 percent to 14.83 euros, and Geox, 3.7 percent to 2.16 euros. Shares of PPR fell 0.6 percent to 176.50 euros.