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Retail Shares Climb 0.6%

Most European markets closed for May Day.

Encouraging news about consumer spending helped retail shares outperform the broader market.

The S&P 500 Retailing Industry Group was up 0.6 percent to 863.49 as the closing bell sounded. That was better than the fractional decline in the S&P 500, down less than 0.1 percent to 1,883.68, and the 0.1 percent drop-off of the Dow Jones Industrial Average to 16,558.87 one day after it ended trading with a record high close of 16,580.84.

Investors were encouraged by the Commerce Department’s report of a higher than expected 0.9 percent increase in personal spending during March and a 0.2 point lift in the number for February, up to 0.5.

That helped energize many retail stocks. Among those tracked by WWD, Burlington Stores Inc. registered the largest increase, up 5.4 percent to $27.40, after it priced a secondary stock offering at $25.75 a share. The 12 million shares are coming from existing stockholders and will not result in any proceeds for the company.

A number of teen and specialty retailers enjoyed increases, including Christopher & Banks Corp., up 5 percent to $6.55; Zumiez Inc., up 2.9 percent to $25.17, and, on the day after it said it would reconstitute its board, Abercrombie & Fitch Co., up 2.9 percent to $37.84.

However, Aéropostale Inc. shares dropped 1 percent to $4.92 after it said late Wednesday that it would close its 125 mall-based P.S. from Aéropostale kids stores and put a cost reduction program in place.

The steepest decline among U.S. fashion, retail and beauty stocks by far came from Avon Products Inc., with shares down 10.2 percent to $13.72. Avon began the day by reporting a wider net loss for its first quarter while saying it would pay about $135 million to settle allegations that it violation the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

Markets in Paris, Frankfurt and Milan were closed in celebration of May Day while in London the FTSE 100 rose 0.4 percent to close at 6,808.87. Shares of the French Connection Group rallied 7.5 percent to close at 81 pence while Next Plc shares rose 2 percent to 66.50 pounds and Mulberry Group shares picked up 1.4 percent to close at 6.85 pounds.

Among a small group of shares to lose ground was Koovs, off 4.8 percent to 1.59 pounds.

The pound traded for $1.66 against the U.S. dollar.