January sales declines and a spike in unemployment were not enough to keep investors on the sidelines Friday as retail shares rallied 4.2 percent in mid-afternoon trading.

The Standard & Poor’s Retail Index advanced 11.33 points to 281.32, adding to its 3.3 percent gain Thursday, when many large chains detailed monthly sales declines, in many cases reaching into double-digits. Retail was outperforming the market overall in afternoon trading Friday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average up 2.8 percent, or 225.56 points, to 8,288.63.


Leading the retail stock charge was The Talbots Inc., up 36.8 percent to $2.99 after the company received a commitment for $200 million in financing and said it would lay off 370 workers.

Other retail gainers included Zale Corp., ahead 20.4 percent to $1.65; Charlotte Russe Holding Inc, 15.4 percent to $5.84; Saks Inc., 13.8 percent to $2.73; Macy’s Inc., 12 percent to $9.79; J. Crew Group, 10.6 percent to $12.30; American Eagle Outfitters Inc., 10.3 percent to $9.63; Chico’s FAS Inc., 10 percent to $4.20; Nordstrom Inc., 9.6 percent to $14.30, and Coach Inc., 7.8 percent to $16.07.

The day started off on a sour note with news that the unemployment rate rose to 7.6 percent last month from 7.2 percent in December and the economy shed 598,000 jobs, the largest one-month drop since 1974, according to the Labor Department.