By and  on November 13, 2013

Unexpectedly strong third-quarter profits and sales at Macy’s Inc. helped lift U.S. retail stocks to an all-time high today.

The S&P Retailing Industry Group gained 1.9 percent to end the day at 913.65, its highest level ever, and Macy’s led the sector with a 9.4 percent gain to $50.68. Macy’s established a new record of $50.95 earlier in the day after reporting after its net income soared 22.1 percent and sales advanced 3.3 percent, both well ahead of analysts’ consensus estimates.

Both the Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 closed at all-time highs, albeit with smaller increases than retail stocks. The Dow picked up 0.5 percent to 15,821.63 while the S&P 500 rose 0.8 percent to 1,782.

Leading off the third-quarter retail reporting season, Macy’s strong quarter elevated other department store issues. Dillard’s Inc., which reports its results Thursday, saw its shares pick up 6.6 percent to $89.55 while The Bon-Ton Stores Inc.’s shares were up 5.8 percent to $12.56. Guess Inc. enjoyed a 4.8 percent pickup to $33.79.

Only eight of the U.S.-based fashion, retail and beauty stocks tracked by WWD fell for the day, with the biggest decline coming from Perry Ellis International Inc., shares of which dropped 23 percent to $15 after the firm cut its full-year guidance sharply. The company said it expected a loss in the third quarter based on softness among mid-tier retailers and in its own stores.

European stock markets closed on a down note, with the FTSE 100 in London and the FTSE MIB in Milan notching the biggest losses.

The British and Italian markets both fell 1.4 percent, to 6,630 and 18,733.02, respectively, while the CAC 40 in Paris was down 0.6 percent to 4,239.94 and the DAX in Frankfurt dipped 0.2 percent to 9,054.83.

The euro traded at $1.34 while the pound fetched $1.59 and the Swiss franc went for $1.09. Retail and luxury stocks put on a poor show, with a few exceptions. Hugo Boss was up 1 percent to 97.58 euros and Aeffe advanced 4.2 percent to 0.67 euros.

Among the stocks that lost the most ground were Ferragamo, down 3 percent to 24.39 euros; Safilo Group, 2.7 percent to 14.04 euros; Mulberry Group, 2 percent to 10.30 pounds, and Compagnie Financière Richemont, 2.3 percent to 89.10 Swiss francs.

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