By  on October 31, 2008

Retail shares managed to hold on to some of their early gains Thursday, ending the day with a 2.3 percent rise.

The Standard & Poor’s Retail Index increased 6.34 points to 288.55, but had gone as high as 296.09 earlier in the day.

Retail stocks outperformed the market overall, which rose despite a government report indicating that weak consumer spending contributed to a contraction in the economy. The country’s gross domestic product decreased at an annual rate of 0.3 percent during the third quarter, according to advance numbers from the Commerce Department, which are subject to revision.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 2.1 percent, or 189.73 points, to close at 9,180.69.

Broadline retailers picking up steam included Kohl’s Corp., up 9.1 percent to $33.86, and Macy’s Inc., up 5.7 percent to $11.66.

Not everyone joined the run-up. Target Corp. shares slid 5.7 percent to $38.39, giving up most of its gains enjoyed Wednesday after activist investor William Ackman proposed spinning off the company’s real estate. Wal-Mart Stores Inc., a Dow component stock, shed 0.5 percent of its value to close at $54.75.

Specialty store stocks perking up for the day included Charming Shoppes Inc., up 14.7 percent to $1.48; Mothers Work Inc., 12.2 percent to $9.38; Pacific Sunwear of California Inc., 7.2 percent to $3.41; New York & Company Inc., 5.2 percent to $2.85, and J. Crew Group Inc., 4.1 percent to $19.36.

Shares of apparel vendors were mostly up for the day with increases from Kenneth Cole Productions Inc., 11.8 percent to $13.15; Liz Claiborne Inc., 6 percent to $7.66; Polo Ralph Lauren Corp., 5 percent to $44.29, and Phillips-Van Heusen Corp., 3.8 percent to $22.50. VF Corp.’s stock dipped 0.1 percent to $54.93.

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