By and  on December 11, 2009

Retail stocks rose 1.5 percent Thursday, making up most of the ground lost in three consecutive days of declines.

The S&P Retail Index ran up 6.08 points to 407.27 and outpaced the Dow Jones Industrial Average, which advanced 0.7 percent, or 68.78 points, to 10,405.83. The Hang Seng Index fell 0.2 percent in Hong Kong as the FTSE 100 rose 0.8 percent in London and the CAC 40 perked up 1.1 percent in Paris.

U.S. consumer stocks rallied despite a Labor Department report showing a 17,000 rise in jobless claims last week while economists were expecting a milder increase of 3,000.

Shares of The Warnaco Group Inc. rose 1.4 percent to $42.62 after Standard & Poor’s said it was considering an upgrade for the firm’s credit rating. Warnaco is currently rated “BB-plus” and an upgrade would get the company’s debt out of junk bond territory.

“Warnaco’s operating performance has been good despite the recession and weak retail environment, and credit metrics have remained stronger than the rating,” said S&P.

After the markets closed, Hanesbrands Inc. said its recent debt refinancing would allow it to make “bolt-on acquisitions” in the $200 million to $300 million range, as opposed to previous covenants that limited acquisitions to $100 million annually. S&P removed the company from CreditWatch negative, raised the rating on its unsecured debt to “B-plus” from “B” and gave its new notes a “B-plus” rating.

Shares of CIT Group Inc. rose 13.7 percent Thursday as they commenced trading on the New York Stock Exchange on the same day the firm exited bankruptcy court proceedings. Shares of the financial services firm, which trades under the same CIT ticker symbol used before its bankruptcy, closed at $28.99, up from when trading began earlier in the day at $25.50. CIT filed a prepackaged bankruptcy on Nov. 1, and received Manhattan bankruptcy court approval of its plan of reorganization on Tuesday.

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