U.S. Markets rebounded modestly today on an unexpected decline in initial jobless claims — but Wall Street and markets in Europe remain wary following Wednesday’s steep declines and Italy’s tenuous access to the debt markets.

 

The S&P Retail Index inched up 0.4 percent, or 2.29 points, to 536.12. And the Dow Jones Industrial Average, which fell nearly 400 points Wednesday, gained 1 percent, or 112.92 points, to 11,893.86 as trading settled. Among the firms picking up ground were Liz Claiborne Inc., up 4.5 percent to $8.43; Kohl’s Corp., 2 percent to $55.39; Limited Brands Inc., 2 percent to $42.29, and VF Corp., 1.6 percent to $133.08.

 

The Labor Department said last week’s initial claims for unemployment insurance fell by 10,000 from the preceding week where economists were expecting the number of claims to remain steady at 400,000.

 

In Europe, Milan’s FTSE MIB was up 1 percent to 15,218.34, followed by Frankfurt’s DAX, which rose 0.7 percent to 5,867.81. Paris’ CAC 40 slipped 0.3 percent to 3,064.84 and London’s FTSE 100 fell 0.3 percent 5,444.82.

 

The day’s biggest decliners included Yoox, which tumbled 10 percent to 9.49 euros; Aeffe, which sank 3.7 percent to 0.63 euros, and Geox, which retreated 3 percent to 2.44 euros. The gainers included a trio of Italian eyewear firms: Marcolin, which rose 3.8 percent to 3.95 euros, Luxottica Group, which was up 1 percent to 20.77 euros, and Safilo Group, which advanced 1.9 percent to 4.74 euros.

 

The euro traded for $1.37 today.

 

Two weeks of turmoil in the region have left Greece and Italy with crumbling governments and prime ministers who are on their way out of office.

 

There is also little clarity how — or whether — the European Union will help prevent a sovereign debt default by Italy. Earlier this week, the country’s government bond yields crashed through the crucial 7 percent barrier, which triggered calls for bailouts in Greece and Ireland.

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