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Stocks Notch Modest Gains

U.S. retail stocks inch up in tepid day for markets.

Wall Street and European markets limped into the weekend with modest gains after a week when investors worried over the state of Europe’s economy and a slowdown in China.

In the U.S., the S&P Retail Index inched up 0.33 points to 616.90 as the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 34.59 points to 13,080.73.

The gainers included The Bon-Ton Stores Inc., which rose 3 percent to $8.89. The regional department store, now under the leadership of chief executive officer Brendan Hoffman, has been one of retail’s strongest performers in the recent rally, gaining 168 percent so far this year.

Other stocks perking up on Friday were Aeropostale Inc., up 2.1 percent to $21.15; Zale Corp., 1.9 percent to $3.21; Charming Shoppes Inc., 1.4 percent to $5.97, and American Apparel Inc., 1.2 percent to 86 cents.

In Europe, Frankfurt’s DAX and Milan’s FTSE MIB each rose 0.2 percent to 6,995.62 and 16,485.24, respectively, while London’s FTSE 100 climbed 0.2 percent to 5,854.89 and Paris’ CAC 40 advanced 0.1 percent to 3,476.18.

U.K. mortgage provider Nationwide said its consumer confidence index fell by 3 points to 44 in February, with consumers worried about job prospects, rising fuel prices, and the uncertain economy.

Retail and luxury stocks were mixed, with the day’s biggest gainers including Asos.com, which advanced 1.4 percent to 17.89 pounds; Safilo Group, 3.6 percent to 5.1 euros, and Yoox, 1 percent to 11.95 euros.

The decliners included Burberry Group, which fell 2 percent to 15.13 pounds; Mulberry Group, 1.2 percent to 19 pounds, and Italy’s Aeffe, 1.8 percent to 0.67 euros. The euro traded at $1.32 while the pound traded at $1.58.