By  on July 27, 2010

Both retail stocks and the broader market slinked back into the black for the year Monday as investors retraced their steps following a sharp drop in the wake of Europe’s debt crisis and a drop-off in the U.S. consumer’s enthusiasm about spending.

The S&P Retail Index rose 1.8 percent, or 7.51 points, to 415.68 Monday, giving the measure of overall retail stocks a 1.1 percent gain for the year. That means investors who bought into retail Monday morning fared better than those trading into the sector almost seven months ago. Retail stocks are still down 16.8 percent from their April high of 499.41.

Of the 172 stocks tracked by WWD, The Bon-Ton Stores Inc. had the strongest showing for the second straight trading session with a gain of 11.5 percent to $9.83. Over the two days, shares of the regional department store firm shot up 23 percent despite no apparent developments at the company.

Over the past week or so, investors have looked past signs the economic recovery will remain frustratingly tepid and pushed stocks higher on the strength of second-quarter results from big corporations.

And they started off the week with some encouragement from the down — but not totally out — housing sector.

Sales of new homes shot up to an annual rate of 330,000 in June, up 23.6 percent from May, according to the Commerce Department. The sales rate is still 16.7 percent below a year earlier but was somewhat better than economists were expecting.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average advanced 1 percent, or 100.81 points, to 10,525.43 Monday.

That puts the U.S. market up 0.9 percent for the year. For investors to do better than Wall Street in a major market, they would have had to travel to Frankfurt, where the DAX has posted a 4 percent rise since Dec. 31. Major indexes in London, Paris, Tokyo and Hong Kong are all down for the year.

On Monday, the Nikkei 225 rose 0.8 percent to 9,503.66 in Tokyo as the SSE Composite Index increased 0.7 percent to 2,588.68 in Shanghai and the Hang Seng Index inched up 0.1 percent to 20,839.91 in Hong Kong. European investors pushed the CAC 40 up 0.8 percent to 3,636.18 in Paris as the FTSE 100 advanced 0.7 percent to 5,351.12 in London and the DAX gained 0.5 percent to 6,194.21.

• Luxottica Profits Grow:
Luxottica Group SpA’s second-quarter profits grew 30.1 percent on a currency-assisted 13.8 percent sales increase. The Milan-based eyewear giant reported net income hit 150.1 million euros, or $205.4 million, in the three months ended June 30 versus profits of 115.3 million euros, or $157 million, in the year-ago quarter, elevating earnings per diluted share to 0.33 euros, or 45 cents, from 0.25 euros, or 34 cents. Sales hit 1.6 billion euros, or $2.18 billion, from 1.4 billion euros, or $1.91 billion, in the prior-year period. Eliminating currency fluctuation, sales were up 6.5 percent.

“Ray-Ban and Oakley continued to record double-digit percentage growth, and our premium and luxury brands also had positive improvement,” said Andrea Guerra, chief executive officer, adding that in North America sales in U.S. dollars were up 8 percent. Dollar figures have been converted from the euro at average exchange for the periods to which they refer.

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