By and  on March 13, 2012

Better retail sales in February helped stoke investor optimism Tuesday, pushing the Dow Jones Industrial Average over 13,000, while the S&P Retail Index topped 600.

Sales at apparel and accessories stores rose a seasonally adjusted 1.8 percent to $19.7 billion in February compared with January, while sales at department stores rose 1.5 percent to $15.4 billion. General merchandise stores, a category that includes department stores and discounters, posted a 0.1 percent decline to $53.6 billion.

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