The S&P 500 set a new high today, but the retail components couldn’t keep up despite a better-than-expected reading on March consumer spending.

The S&P 500 Retailing Industry Group slumped 0.1 percent, or 0.45 points, to 745.06, as the S&P 500 just barely nudged past its previous high close from April 11. The index gained 0.7 percent, or 11.37 points, to 1,593.61. The Dow Jones Industrial Average also advanced 0.7 percent, rising 106.20 points, to 14,818.75.
Losing ground in the retail index were Inc., down 2 percent to $249.74, and Kohl’s Corp., 2 percent to $47.32.

Among the fashion industry gainers were J.C. Penney Co. Inc., which rose 1.1 percent to $17.19 after the company secured $1.75 billion in new financing; Macy’s Inc., 1 percent to $45.07; Ross Stores Inc., 0.9 percent to $65.72, and The TJX Cos. Inc., 0.9percent to $48.84.

The Commerce Department said March personal consumption expenditures grew 0.2 percent from February. That’s a better read on spending than projected by economists, who were looking at steady month-to-month expenditures.

“Personal spending seems to be holding up despite the expiry of the payroll tax cut in January, rising pump prices in February, and volatile consumer mood,” said IHS Global Insight economist Chris Christopher. “First quarter personal spending adjusted for inflation grew at the strongest rate since the last quarter of 2010.”
In Europe, markets closed on an upbeat note, with the FTSE MIB leading the way from Milan.

The Italian index was up 2.2 percent to 16,929.68 on the first full day of trading after a new coalition government was sworn in with Enrico Letta as prime minister. The CAC 40 in Paris advanced 1.5 percent to 3,868.68, Frankfurt’s DAX increased 0.8 percent to 7,873.50 and London’s FTSE MIB climbed 0.5 percent to 6,458.02.

The euro was trading at $1.31 against the dollar and the pound was going for $1.51.

Retail and luxury stocks were predominantly up, with the day’s biggest gainers including Yoox, ahead 4.7 percent to 14.34 euros; Luxottica, 2.8 percent to 40.91 euros, and, 2.1 percent to 30.50 pounds.

Burberry, however, dropped 0.4 percent to 13.44 pounds.