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Retail, Wall Street Rally to New Highs

Investors push stocks up on strong drop in first-time jobless claims.

The bulls were out on Wall Street today, pushing retail stocks and the Dow Jones Industrial Average to new highs.

The S&P 500 Retailing Industry Group jumped 1.3 percent, or 10.86 points, to 847, as the Dow Jones Industrial Average increased 0.8 percent, or 128.48 points, to 15,628.02.

Both indices set all-time highs in intraday trading today as economic indicators put a positive spin on the recovery. In the U.S., initial jobless claims fell by 19,000 to 326,000 last week — a much stronger drop than the 1,000 projected by economists. Europe’s major indices also closed higher after manufacturing in the U.K advanced ahead of analysts’ expectations for July and several banks posted better-than-projected profits.

The gainers in the U.S. included Nike Inc., up 4.9 percent to $65.97; The Jones Group Inc., 4.6 percent to $17.17; Under Armour Inc., 3.5 percent to $69.50; L Brands Inc., 3.2 percent to $57.55, and Abercrombie & Fitch Co., 3.2 percent to $51.46.

Shares of J.C. Penney Co. Inc. slipped 2 cents to $14.58 even after the company denied a report it was having financing problems related to small vendors, which sent the department store’s stock down 10.2 percent Wednesday.

In Europe, the FTSE MIB led the way up, gaining 2 percent to 16,818.97, Frankfurt’s DAX increased 1.6 percent to 8,410.73, Paris’ CAC 40 grew 1.3 percent to 4,042.73 and London’s FTSE 100 climbed 0.9 percent to 6,681.98.

The pound was worth $1.51 against the dollar and the euro traded at $1.31.

Retail and luxury stocks had a solid day, with most stocks making gains including, Burberry, up 2.2 percent to 15.63 pounds; LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, 2.5 percent to 140 euros; and Yoox, which leaped 12.2 percent to 22.13 euros after it reported a 22 percent increase in second-quarter net profits. Yoox posted strong sales growth in all its business lines and geographic markets and a double-digit increase in average order value.

Unilever was among the few stocks losing ground. It slipped 1.3 percent to 30 euros.