By  on April 13, 2010

Investors continued to feel the rush of last week’s strong March sales reports, pushing the S&P Retail Index as high as 470.74, before retreating slightly and ending ahead 0.2 percent, or 0.90 points, at 469.16. The Dow was up 0.1 percent, or 8.62 points, to 11,005.97.

Retailers posted their strongest monthly comparable-store sales rise in a decade last week, aided by pent-up demand for fresh fashion, weak year-ago comparisons, an early Easter and warm weather.

“The solid performance reflected well-executed product strategies offering planned discounts and limited-time promotions, a clear indication the American consumer remains ‘price-aware,’” said Thomas Filandro, specialty store analyst at Susquehanna Financial Group. “More favorable weather, pent-up demand and improved shopper confidence fueled strong spring selling.”

To maintain their stock valuations, retailers will have to demonstrate they can continue to grow and capitalize on the still-nascent economic recovery. The proof will be out soon. Aluminum giant and Dow component Alcoa Inc. kicked off the first-quarter earnings season late Monday with a narrower loss and better sales.

Fashion retailers will begin to report their first round of results next month.

Among the retailers on the rise Monday were: Bebe Stores Inc., up 3.6 percent to $9.29; Zale Corp., 1.8 percent to $3.42; The TJX Cos. Inc., 1.7 percent to $45.61; J. Crew Group, 1.5 percent to $47.28; American Eagle Outfitters Inc., 1.4 percent to $18.02, and Limited Brands Inc., 1 percent to $26.89.

International markets were mixed for the day. Asian investors pushed the Hang Seng Index down 0.3 percent to 22,138.17 in Hong Kong and the Nikkei 225 up 0.4 percent to 11,251.90 in Tokyo. European investors traded the FTSE 100 up 0.1 percent to 5,777.65 in London and the CAC 40 basically flat at 4,050.50 in Paris.

The Athex Composite Index jumped 3.5 percent to 2,061.04 in Athens. European governments agreed Sunday to loan Greece an initial 30 billion euros, or $40.77 billion at current exchange, should the country request it. Investors have been closely following Greece’s efforts to dig out of its budget woes, fearing that the country’s financial troubles might ripple out to global markets.

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