By  on September 15, 2009

Retail stocks inched up 0.5 percent Monday as President Obama came to Wall Street to mark the anniversary of the fall of Lehman Brothers and to warn bankers that they cannot return to their old ways.

“The storms of the past two years are beginning to break,” said Obama, stressing that recovery could not lead to complacency. “We will not go back to the days of reckless behavior and unchecked excess that were at the heart of this crisis.”

The S&P Retail Index rose 1.79 points to 374.16 as the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.2 percent, or 21.39 points, to 9,626.80.

Consumers are still being extremely cautious as unemployment rises, but young professionals in particular appear to be showing signs of life.

Sixty percent of the people surveyed for American Express’ first Spending & Saving Tracker said they would spend the same or more over the next 30 days than they did during the preceding 30 days.

That leaves the other 40 percent of consumers cutting back as retailers push through the end of the back-to-school season and ready themselves for the holidays. The poll of 2,032 adults was conducted in late August.

“I don’t think anyone expects the American consumer to quickly return to the spending levels of the last few years, but amid their cautiousness we are seeing some areas where people are willing to increase spending,” said Pamela Codispoti, senior vice president and general manager of Cardmember Services.

Young professionals were more likely than affluent consumers or the general population to say they would boost their spending, with 24 percent planning to increase expenditures. Of the young professionals who did plan to spend more, 65 percent said they would buy more apparel, 54 percent said they would spend more dining out and 53 percent expected to up their travel budgets.

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