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Stocks Rebound Despite Hints of Weakness

U.S. jobless claims rise, U.K. Trade deficit widens, China’s growth seen slowing.

Stocks continued to bounce back today as investors sidelined economic fears and pushed U.S. retail stocks up 1.3 percent.

 

The U.S.-based S&P Retail Index rose 8.12 points to 618.21, as the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 1.4 percent, or 181.19 points, to 12,986.58.

 

Wall Street’s fashion gainers included Zale Corp., up 6 percent to $2.84; New York & Co. Inc., 5.8 percent to $3.66; Movado Group Inc., 5 percent to $26.14; G-III Apparel Group, 2.9 percent to $27.91, and Saks Inc., 2.8 percent to $10.86. Even as markets gained, new economic reports continued to stir uncertainty about the global economy.

 

The U.S. Labor Department said initial jobless claims worsened, rising by 13,000 to 380,000 last week while economists were expecting first-time claims to drop to 355,000. In the U.K., official statistics showed the trade deficit grew to 3.4 billion pounds, or $5.4 billion at current exchange, due chiefly to a drop in automobile sales to non-European Union countries.

 

And the World Bank projected China’s GDP growth would fall to 8.2 percent this year from 9.2 percent last year — although the development bank said it growing was less likely the country would see an economic crash.

 

“China’s gradual slowdown is expected to continue into 2012, as consumption growth slows somewhat, investment growth decelerates more pronouncedly and external demand remains weak,” said Ardo Hansson, the bank’s lead economist for the country. “The risks of overheating are moderating, increasing the prospects to achieve a soft landing.”

 

Markets had a slow start in Europe, but rallied as the trading day drew to a close.

 

London’s FTSE 100 led the charge, rising 1.3 percent to 5,710.46, followed by Milan’s FTSE MIB, which climbed 1.2 percent to 14,869.91. Frankfurt’s DAX climbed 1 percent to 6,743.24 and Paris’ CAC 40 edged up 1 percent to 3,269.79.

 

Retail and luxury stocks also put on a good show, with the day’s biggest gainers including Ferragamo, which climbed 3.6 percent to 16.05 euros; Mulberry Group, 9.4 percent to 22.50 pounds, and Burberry Group, 2.9 percent to 15.85 pounds. The euro traded at $1.31 while the pound traded at $1.59.