By  on January 20, 2010

Retail stocks followed the market up Tuesday, rising 0.9 percent, only the second increase in the last seven trading sessions.

The S&P Retail Index perked up 3.52 points to 411.82. Health care stocks led the Dow Jones Industrial Average up 1.1 percent, or 115.78 points, to 10,725.43 as investors watched the special election to fill the seat of Sen. Edward Kennedy in Massachusetts and gauged its impact on national health reform. The Dow registered its highest close since October 2008.

Among the retail gainers was Nordstrom Inc., which got an afternoon vote of confidence from Deutsche Bank analyst Bill Dreher Jr. The retailer’s shares rose 0.5 percent to $36.20, but the analyst has a target price of $45 on the stock and reiterated his “buy” rating.

“Nordstrom is navigating this difficult consumer spending environment superbly,” Dreher said, noting the retailer’s sharper prices have resonated with consumers.

He also said the company would benefit from the $6.4 billion in apparel, footwear and department store sales that are up for grabs in the marketplace as well as the stabilization of the California market and an improved housing landscape.

Shares in the international markets were generally up. Tokyo, however, proved to be an exception with the Nikkei 225 falling 0.8 percent to 10,764.90 as Japan Airlines Corp. filed for bankruptcy protection and began a government-backed turnaround.

Elsewhere in Asia, the Hang Seng Index rose 1 percent to 21,677.98 in Hong Kong and the SSE Composite Index inched up 0.3 percent to 3,246.87 in Shanghai.

The CAC 40 advanced 0.8 percent to 4,009.67 in Paris and the FTSE 100 rose 0.3 percent to 5,513.14 in London.

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