NEW YORK — The WWD Composite Stock Index advanced a healthy 1.25 percent last week to 111.6 from 110.22, boosted in part by a rally in Dillard’s Inc.’s stock on speculation that Federated Department Stores Inc. may seek to acquire the retailer.

The S&P 500 rose 1.24 percent to 1,136.47 from 1,122.51 in a shortened trading week. The markets were closed Friday in honor of former President Ronald Reagan.

Dillard’s ended the week up 16.9 percent to close at $23.23 from $19.88 in the prior week. The stock hit a 52-week high of $23.50 during Thursday’s session after May Department Stores Co. struck a deal with Target Corp. for Marshall Field’s.

Although May’s shares ticked down fractionally after investors learned of the acquisition, for the week, the company’s stock was up 0.8 percent to $28.87 from $28.65.

Target, meanwhile, saw its shares advance 1.2 percent for the week to close at $45.75 from $45.21 after hitting an all-time high of $47.40 in midday trading Thursday.

Not to be outdone, Federated may have lost out in its pursuit of Field’s, but its stock performance outshone that of both principals by growing 2.6 percent to $50 from $48.75. Investors likely applauded Federated perspicacity in not overpaying for the venerable but underperforming nameplate.

On the wholesaler’s side, Tommy Hilfiger Corp.’s shares plunged, falling 5.2 percent to $14.20 from $14.98, after the company lowered its fiscal 2005 sales guidance.

However, that paled in comparison to the performance of Novel Denim Holdings Ltd.’s stock, which plummeted 29.6 percent to $1.40 from $1.99, after the company reported deeper losses for its fourth quarter and fiscal year and said it was exiting the garment business.

WWD Composite Stock Index vs. S&P 500

Source: data Networks, Standard & Poor’s

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