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Stocks Gain Despite Sagging Consumer Confidence

U.S. retail stocks rise 0.6 percent.

U.S. retail stocks gained ground today despite an unexpected drop in consumer confidence this month.

The S&P 500 Retailing Industry Group rose 0.6 percent, or 4.59 points, to 725.32, as the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 0.8 percent, or 111.90 points, to 14,559.65.

Among the gainers were American Apparel Inc., up 12.9 percent to $2.37; Movado Group Inc., 5.1 percent to $33.95; Avon Products Inc., 4.2 percent to $20.84, and Amazon.com Inc., 1.7 percent to $260.31.

The stock gains came despite new evidence that shoppers remain fragile. The Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index fell to 59.7 this month, down from 68 in February. Economists expected a modest uptick in confidence to 68.7.

“The recent sequester [budget cut] has created uncertainty regarding the economic outlook and as a result, consumers are less confident,” said Lynn Franco, director of economic indicators at The Conference Board.

Investors continued to push the market up in both the U.S. and Europe, even though there are lingering concerns about the contentious bailout for Cyprus this week. The country secured 10 billion euros, or $12.96 billion, to stave off bankruptcy, but people with bank accounts in the small island nation had to foot some of that bill.

Paris’ CAC 40 gained 0.6 percent to 3,748.64, as London’s FTSE 100 rose 0.3 percent to 6,399.37 and Frankfurt’s DAX inched up 0.1 percent to 7,879.67.

Milan’s FTSE MIB headed in the other direction, falling 1 percent to 15,495.92. Fashion and luxury stocks were most on the rise. The gainers included Mulberry Group, up 2.2 percent to 10.25 pounds; Burberry Group, 1.5 percent to 13.37 pounds; LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, 1.3 percent to 131.30 euros; Kering (formerly PPR), 1.1 percent to 172.35 euros; Salvatore Ferragamo, 0.9 percent to 21.55 euros, and Hermès International, 0.6 percent to 267.25 euros.

The euro traded at $1.29 against the dollar while the pound fetched $1.52.