Stock markets perked up today as investors looked ahead to the first-quarter earnings season and set aside broader economic worries, for now.


The S&P Retail Index rose 1.1 percent, or 6.55 points, to 610.09 after falling 2.7 percent Tuesday. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 0.7 percent, or 89.46 points, to 12,805.39. Dow-component Alcoa Inc. led the way with a 6.2 percent stock gain, which came in the wake of a its first-quarter earnings report.


Retailers won’t start to report first-quarter results until next month.


Fashion’s winners for the day included American Apparel Inc., up 14.3 percent to 96 cents; The Bon-Ton Stores Inc., 8.7 percent to $7.63; Liz Claiborne Inc., 5 percent to $12.98 and J.C. Penney Co. Inc., 3.7 percent to $34.43.


Markets, which have been on the rise this year, took a step back earlier in the week as investors scrutinized lackluster payroll gains in the U.S. from last week as well as increased borrowing costs in Europe.


The panic over the state of Spain’s finances abated some. Borrowing costs on government bonds fell to 5.8 percent from 6 percent and major budget cuts are scheduled to be unveiled by the new prime minister Mariano Rajoy this week.


All the major European markets closed up, with the FTSE MIB in Milan leading the way: The Italian market climbed 1.6 percent to 14,689.84, followed by the DAX in Frankfurt, which advanced 1 percent to 6,674.73. The FTSE 100 in London moved up 0.7 percent to 5,634.74 while the CAC 40 in Paris gained 0.6 percent to close at 3,237.69.


The day’s biggest gainers included Hugo Boss, which climbed 1.7 percent to 86.40 euros; Ferragamo, 2 percent to 15.49 euros, and French Connection, 1.7 percent to 0.45 pounds. The euro traded at $1.31, while the pound traded at $1.59.


The British Retail Consortium said U.K. retail sales values for March rose 1.3 percent on a same-store basis. The retail group said clothing and footwear sales were particularly boosted by the warm weather in the U.K. last month.

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