By  on March 18, 2009

Debt downgrades for luxury retailers Nordstrom Inc., Neiman Marcus Inc. and Saks Inc. failed to blunt a leap on Tuesday in retail stocks, which posted their second-largest gain this year and their fifth advance in six sessions. Retail shares rose 5.4 percent and outpaced the broader market amid hints of stability in parts of a consumer economy in general free fall.

The S&P Retail Index perked up 13.74 points to 269.34, 17.7 percent above its March 9 level of 228.76. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose a milder 2.5 percent, or 178.73 points, to 7,395.70.

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