By and  on February 17, 2010

Retail stocks posted their third straight gain Tuesday, rising 1.7 percent in a general market rally.

The S&P Retail Index reclaimed the 400 mark in convincing fashion, gaining 6.83 points to 406.33. Retail stocks have rebounded 5.1 percent from their 2010 low on Feb. 5.

Among the gainers were Bebe Stores Inc., up 7.4 percent to $8.32; Dillard’s Inc., 5.2 percent to $17.28; Abercrombie & Fitch Co., 4.1 percent to $35.25, and Macy’s Inc., 3.3 percent to $17.89.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average advanced 1.7 percent, or 169.67 points, to close at 10,268.81. Leading the blue chip stocks was Bank of America Corp., which said it had modified more than 12,700 mortgages through a government program. The extra breathing room on monthly payments could help ease the way to more spending in those households.

In Tokyo, the Nikkei 225, which dipped 0.8 percent Monday despite better-than-expected fourth-quarter GDP growth, rose 0.2 percent on Tuesday to 10,034.25.

Japan’s economy grew 1.1 percent from the previous quarter and 4.6 percent on an annualized basis, according to Japan’s Cabinet Office.

There are still concerns about deflation and stagnant consumer demand. “Looking ahead, robust exports to the stronger-than-expected economies of China and the emerging economies of Asia should support the Japanese economy and prevent a ‘double-dip’ recession in 2010 when the effects of domestic fiscal stimulus fade,” wrote BNP Paribas chief economist Ryutaro Kono in an analysis. “But we do not expect an autonomous recovery will begin until 2011.”

Asian investors also pushed up the SSE Composite Index 1.1 percent to 3,018.13 in Shanghai on Tuesday. In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng Index dipped 0.1 percent to 20,268.69.

The CAC 40 jumped 1.7 percent to 3,669.04 in Paris and the FTSE 100 advanced 1.5 percent to 5,244.06 in London as European officials pushed Greece to address its budget woes.

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