NEW YORK — Reduced inventories and renewed fashion interest could prod second-quarter retail earnings higher, despite Wall Street’s obvious concern about profit prospects.

Retailers last week released better-than-expected results for June and indicated that retail math was working in their favor. Sales and margins have moved higher, with strong activity in transitional and back-to-school merchandise, while inventories are down. Year-on-year inventory reductions were 22 percent at Talbots; 15 percent at Gap Inc.; 11 percent at Ann Taylor; 10 percent at Christopher & Banks, and 3 percent at The Limited.

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