U.S. retail shares logged their best gains of 2014 while J.C. Penney Co. Inc. was left out in the cold as its stock hit a 52-week low.
The S&P 500 Retailing Industry Group rose 1.6 percent to 890.8, reducing its year-to-date decline to 5.2 percent with only its sixth winning session of 2014. The broader market rose less heatedly as the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 0.7 percent to 15,848.61 and the S&P 500 added 1.1 percent to hit 1,794.19.
Investors were enthused by the Bureau of Economic Analysis’s report early Thursday that gross domestic product in the U.S. grew at a 3.2 percent pace in the fourth quarter, putting full-year GDP growth at 1.9 percent.
Fashion stocks were led by Under Armour Inc., up 22.9 percent to $104.76 after fourth-quarter sales and profits easily surpassed analysts’ expectations and the Baltimore-based athletic apparel specialist lifted expectations for both the top and bottom lines for 2014.
Hanesbrands Inc., which exceeded quarterly estimates and lifted annual guidance late Wednesday, saw its shares pick up 11.4 percent to rise to $72.49. Shares of both firms hit 52-week highs before dropping back later in the day.
Penney’s shares closed down 52 cents, or 8.3 percent, at $5.77 and hit a 52-week low of $5.69 in the final hour of trading. Their value has declined 36.9 percent since the end of 2013.
European stock markets put on a mixed show Thursday, with the FTSE 100 in London losing ground, and the other three major markets making marginal gains.
The British market was down 0.1 percent to 6,538.45, while the CAC 40 in Paris was up 0.6 percent, and the DAX in Frankfurt advanced 0.4 percent to 9,373.48. The FSTE MIB in Milan climbed 0.4 percent to 19,411.55.
Although retail and luxury stocks were mostly down, Mulberry was up 1.4 percent to 6.63 pounds a day after it plummeted nearly 24 percent following a profit warning. Geox was up 2.5 percent to 2.94 euros.
Among the stocks that lost the most ground were Burberry Group, 2.8 percent to 14.11 pounds; Tod’s, 8.1 percent to 101.20 euros; and Kering, 1.2 percent to 144.85 euros.
The euro traded at $1.37 against the U.S. dollar while the pound fetched $1.66 and the Swiss franc equaled $1.11.
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