The consumer mood continued to brighten this month, according to a new report Friday, but that wasn’t enough to propel Wall Street, which has been bumping up against multi-year highs.
The Surveys of Consumers’ sentiment index showed that consumer confidence inched up to 75.3 this month from 75 in January, marking the sixth consecutive monthly gain.
“Consumers have shrugged off concerns about rising gas prices, the European crisis, and election year politics, preferring to focus on their favorable impact of job growth,” said Richard Curtin, Surveys of Consumers’ chief economist. “A potential threat is that consumers expect too much too soon.”
The U.S. economy added 243,000 jobs in January and the unemployment rate fell to 8.3 percent—but economists say the country needs to continue to boost employment to fuel the recovery.
The S&P Retail Index rose 0.2 percent, or 0.84 points, to 572.55 for the day, as the Dow Jones Industrial Average briefly topped 13,000, but closed down 1.74 points at 12,982.95.
The day’s biggest gainers included Kenneth Cole Productions Inc., which rose 18.5 percent to $15.49 after the designer offered to take the company private, and Sears Holdings Corp., which gained 10.5 percent to $68.31, continuing Thursday’s rally, which was spurred on by asset sales at the ailing retailer.
On the other side of the Atlantic, the DAX in Frankfurt closed up 0.8 percent to 6,864.43, while the FTSE MIB in Milan ended up 1.1 percent to 16,487.53, and the CAC 40 in Paris gained 0.6 percent to 3,467.03. The FTSE 100 in London finished the day down 0.1 percent, to 5,935.13.
Lloyds Banking Group led the declines in London, after the firm reported a losses for 2011, while Deutsche Bank and Societé Generale led the gains in Frankfurt and Paris, respectively. It was a distinctly mixed day for fashion and luxury stocks. Those that rose included Carrefour, up 2.8 percent to 18.32 euros; Mulberry, up 1.5 percent to 19.40 pounds ,and PPR, which gained 2.4 percent to 127.8 euros. Among the decliners were Burberry, down 1.5 percent to 14.21 pounds; Compagnie Financiere Richemont, which dropped 1.4 percent to 54.45 Swiss francs, and ASOS, which fell 1.8 percent to 18.34 pounds.
The pound traded at $1.56 Friday, while the euro traded at $1.33 and the Swiss franc traded at $1.10.