U.S. retail stocks set a new high watermark today, but ultimately chalked up weaker gains than the market overall.

The S&P 500 Retailing Industry Group closed up 0.2 percent, or 1.16 points, at 685.56. The index hit its new high of 686.32 in midday trading.

Despite the still-shaky economy, the market’s trading at levels not seen since 2007. The Dow Jones Industrial Average perked up 0.5 percent, or 62.43 points, to 13,712.13.

Among the gainers in the fashion and beauty industries were Avon Products Inc., up 3.7 percent to $16.56; Inter Parfums Inc., 3.4 percent to $20.50; Oxford Industries Inc., 2.9 percent to $50.46; The Bon-Ton Stores Inc., 2.7 percent to $14.19; Under Armour Inc., 2.6 percent to $47.44, and Fifth & Pacific Cos. Inc., 2.4 percent to $14.95.

European markets closed slightly down with the DAX in Frankfurt dipping 0.7 percent to 7,696.21 and the CAC 40 in Paris contracting 0.6 percent to 3,741.01. FTSE 100 in London was flat, down 0.03 percent to 6,179.17, while the FTSE MIB in Milan was ahead by 0.5 percent to 17,715.90

The pound traded at $1.59 against the dollar, while the euro fetched $1.33 and the Swiss franc was worth $1.07.

Retail and luxury stocks were mostly down, with the day’s biggest decliners including Mulberry, down 3.6 percent to 12.50 pounds; Swatch Group, 1.2 percent to 86.55 Swiss francs; L’Oréal, 1 percent to 108.50 euros, and PPR, 0.8 percent to 153.95 euros.

Among the stocks making advances were Asos.com, up 1.3 percent to 26.11 pounds, and Compagnie Financière Richemont, 1.4 percent to 75.30 Swiss francs.

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