By  on August 12, 2011

Wall Street cautiously continued on its upward path in early trading today, building on Thursday's gains after a stronger-than-expected reading on July sales and a selective ban on short sales in Europe.

At 11 a.m., the S&P Retail Index was up 0.5 percent, or 2.60 points, to 485.96 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average was ahead 0.8 percent, or 83.93 points, to 11,227.24. Shares of Dillard's Inc. ran counter trend, falling 16.7 percent to $42.27 despite an increase in second-quarter profits. And J.C. Penney Co. Inc.'s stock slipped 3.2 percent to $25.98 after the firm said profits were flat for the quarter.

On Thursday, retail stocks rebounded 3.8 percent as the Dow gained 4 percent.

U.S. investors were encouraged by a Commerce Department report on July retail and food service sales, which rose 0.5 percent from June, outpacing economist estimates of a 0.4 percent rise.Many of this week's wild swings in the market were driven by fears that European banks are overly exposed to the sovereign debt of Italy and Spain and vulnerable to collapse.

France, Belgium, Italy and Spain banned short selling, or bets that pay off when stocks fall, for certain financial stocks.

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