An unexpected drop in initial jobless claims last week and an interest rate cut from the European Central helped perk up Wall Street today.


The S&P 500 Retailing Industry Group gained 0.9 percent, or 6.93 points, to 748.48, as the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.9 percent, or 130.63 points, to 14,831.58.

The fashion industry gainers were led by Delia’s Inc., which shot up 36.8 percent to 93 cents after former J. Crew executive Tracy Gardner joined the company as chief creative officer. Also posting increases were True Religion Apparel Inc., up 6 percent to $27.99; American Apparel Inc., 4.3 percent to $1.94, and The Bon-Ton Stores Inc., 3.8 percent to $15.41.

Investors, who have steadily pushed retail stocks to new highs this year, are watching closely for signs that the economy is continuing to stabilize. The Labor Department said today that initial jobless claims fell by 18,000 last year to 324,000 where economists were expecting a rise of 3,000.


Across the Atlantic, European Central Bank stepped in to boost the region’s economy, slashing its benchmark interest rate by 25 basis points to 0.50 percent, a new low.

The move, which was largely expected, is both a sign of how weak the European economy is and a more reassuring signal that the central bank is trying to kick start growth.

The DAX in Frankfurt rose 0.6 percent to 7,961.71 as the FTSE 100 in London increased 0.2 percent to 6,460.71, and the CAC 40 in Paris advanced 0.1 percent to 3,858.76.

The only market to edge down was Milan’s FTSE MIB, which sank 0.1 percent to 16,748.28.

The euro traded at $1.32 against the dollar while the pound fetched $1.56 while the Swiss franc went for $1.08.

Retail and luxury stocks were on the uptick, with the day’s biggest gainers including Hugo Boss, which advanced 4.5 percent to 92.53 euros despite a 14 percent decline in first-quarter earnings; Asos.com, 4.1 percent to 35.82 pounds; Beiersdorf AG 4.2 percent to 71.64 euros on the back of better-than-expected first quarter results, and Metro AG, 4.1 percent to 24.65 euros, after narrowing its net loss in the first quarter.