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U.S. Retail Stocks Hit New High

European markets jump while Dow and S&P advance in U.S.

U.S. retail stocks hit an all-time high in midday trading Monday as the first full week of the second half of the year began on a nearly universally strong note.

The S&P Retail Industry Group Index rose 11.98 points, or 1.5 percent, to 821.68 after hitting its highest point ever, 822.33, in the final hour of trading. The major indices rose less robustly, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average up 88.85 points, or 0.6 percent, to 15,224.69 and the S&P 500 ahead 8.57 points, or 0.5 percent, to 1,640.46.

Gains were spurred by optimism about the earnings season ahead and by the continued effect of a strong employment report prior to Friday’s abbreviated trading session. The markets also benefited from merger and acquisition interest, including The Jones Group Inc.’s reported retention of Citi to pursue a possible sale and LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton’s acquisition of an 80 percent stake in Loro Piana for 2 billion euros, or $2.56 billion at current exchange.

Shares of Delia’s Inc. continued their recent momentum, rising 9.6 percent to $1.26, followed by Jones, up 7.6 percent to $15.75, and The Bon-Ton Stores Inc., ahead 5.1 percent to $20.72.

Earlier in the day, European stocks digested Friday’s U.S. jobs report with enthusiasm.

Frankfurt’s DAX led the way, up 2.1 percent to 7,968.62, followed by the CAC 40 in Paris, which rose 1.9 percent to 3,823.83. Milan’s FTSE MIB grew 1.7 percent to 15,799.62, while London’s FTSE 100 advanced 0.4 percent to 6,450.07.

The pound traded at $1.51 against the dollar, while the euro fetched $1.31.

Retail and luxury stocks closed on mostly healthy gains, with the day’s biggest growers including LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, up 3 percent as it revealed its Loro Piana stake; Luxottica, 2.4 percent to 40.66 euros; and Hermès, 2.1 percent to 254 euros.

Among the few stocks losing ground were Mulberry, down 1.9 percent to 9.01 pounds, and Asos.com, which dipped 0.1 percent to 43.40 pounds.