Stocks inched up today as the U.S. employment picture brightened a bit and Greece appeared to move closer to a deal that will unlock another round of bailout funds.

 

The S&P Retail Index rose 0.2 percent, or 0.88 points, to 563.27, as the Dow Jones Industrial Average advanced 0.1 percent, or 6.51 points, to 12,890.46.

 

Among the gainers were Perry Ellis International Inc., up 4.1 percent to $17.70; Hanesbrands Inc., 3.2 percent to $27.12; Guess Inc. 2.9 percent to $34.64; Liz Claiborne Inc., 2.8 percent to $9.99, and Michael Kors Holdings, 2.3 percent to $33.97.

 

Initial jobless claims fell by a seasonally adjusted 15,000 last week to 358,000, according to the Labor Department.

 

Economists expected jobless claims would increase to 370,000.

 

With Greece seemingly moving toward a resolution of its debt impasse—the country has come up with an austerity package, but still needs to get it approved—markets were generally up out side of Milan’s FTSE MIB.

 

The DAX in Frankfurt led the upswing, closing up 0.6 percent to 6,788.80, followed by the CAC 40 in Paris, which was up 0.4 percent to 3,424.71. The FTSE 100 rose 0.3 percent to 5,895.47, while the Italian market dipped 0.1 percent to 16,563.83.

 

The overall rise in markets came against a backdrop of some positive news for the Euro zone. The European Central Bank left its benchmark interest rate at 1 percent amid signs of stabilization of the economies in the region. Meanwhile, the Bank of England pumped another 50 billion pounds into the U.K. economy in a further bid to stimulate growth.

 

The region’s biggest gainers included Asos.com, which closed up 2.9 percent to 18.89 pounds; Yoox, which rocketed 8.6 percent to 10.13 euros following a 36 percent rise in revenue in 2011, and Safilo Group, which climbed 6.1 percent to 5.94 euros.

 

Among the decliners were Marcolin, which sank 1.4 percent to 3.84 euros; Arcandor, which tumbled 3.8 percent to 0.05 euros, and Aeffe, which was down 2.7 percent at 0.64 euros.

 

The euro traded at $1.33 while the pound traded at $1.58.

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