The Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 hit their highest closing levels ever as retail shares enjoyed their third best day of the year.
The S&P 500 Retailing Industry Group gained 1.91 percent to close at 863.85 with a percentage gain topped only by the 2.3 percent advance of Feb. 6 and 1.94 percent jump on Feb. 25.
Even with more modest gains, the Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 closed at their highest levels ever. The Dow was up 0.7 percent to 16,695.47 while the S&P gained a 1 percent to end the day at 1,896.65. The Dow hit an all-time high of 16,794.84 in midday trading before retreating near the close, and the S&P’s high point of the day just missed the 1,897.28 reached on April 4.
Perhaps echoing the better-than-expected retail results reported last week for April specialty retailers enjoyed the day, with many finishing with stronger gains than the retail index’s 1.9 percent advance.
American Apparel Inc. shares rose 16.9 percent to 70 cents, their highest close since March 24, and the strongest advance among U.S. retail, fashion and beauty equities tracked by WWD.  Big and tall specialist Destination XL Group Inc. enjoyed the second largest increase, rising 9.3 percent to $5.66, followed by The Wet Seal Inc., up 6.9 percent to $1.09, and Aéropostale Inc., ahead 6.8 percent to $4.73.
After the markets closed, American Apparel reported a reduction in its first-quarter loss as revenues declined 0.7 percent to $137.1 million.
Among fewer than a dozen fashion firms suffering declines on the day were Cache Inc., which reported a larger-than-expected first quarter loss before the opening bell, and Ralph Lauren Corp., down 1 percent to $147.34 on its second full day of trading after it issued a cautious outlook for the current year and revealed the retirement later this month of Roger Farah, formerly president and chief operating officer and currently vice chairman.
As in the U.S., Europe’s major indices all finished with gains on the day.

The DAX in Frankfurt led the rises, gaining 1.3 percent to 9,702.46, followed by the FTSE 100 in London, up 0.6 percent to 6,851.75. The FTSE MIB in Milan rose 0.5 percent to 21,493.67, while the CAC 40 in Paris gained 0.4 percent to 4,493.65.
Reuters pointed to upbeat first-quarter results from the Italian bank UniCredit, which saw the bank return to profit, and a positive first quarter reported by Banca Popolare di Milano on Friday, as boosting investor sentiment.
A number of British retailers lost ground, including, which fell 2.5 percent to 50 pence; Bonmarché, down 2.3 percent to 2.83 pounds; Debenhams, which slipped 3.2 percent to 79 pence, and French Connection Group, which lost 5.6 percent to 85 pence.

Those in the sector that rose included Yoox Group, up 2 percent to 23.57 euros; Hennes & Mauritz, which gained 1.5 percent to 271.90 Swedish kroner, and Beiersdorf, which climbed 1.7 percent to 73.63 euros.

The euro traded for $1.38 against the U.S. dollar Monday, while the Swedish krona changed hands for 15 cents and the pound went for $1.68.

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