Stock markets regained some ground today after a week of worries over whether Greece would remain in the euro zone.

 

In the U.S., the S&P Retail Index rose 0.6 percent, or 3.76 points, to 608.28, as the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 0.3 percent, or 33.60 points, to 12,529.75.

 

Leading retailers were The Bon-Ton Stores Inc., up 8 percent to $3.94, and PVH Corp., ahead 6.5 percent to $82.38 after the firm reported a 61.5 percent gain in first-quarter earnings Wednesday afternoon. Among the other gainers were Oxford Industries Inc., up 5.8 percent to $42.66, Cache Inc., 5.1 percent to $4.92, and Warnaco Group Inc., 3.3 percent to $45.26.

 

Europe’s stock markets ended the day on a high note in what has been a period of volatility.

 

The FTSE 100 in London advanced 1.6 percent to 5,350.05, while the CAC 40 in Paris climbed 1.2 percent to 3,038.25.The FTSE MIB in Milan climbed 1.1 percent to 13,107.80, followed by the DAX in Frankfurt, which advanced 0.5 percent to 6,315.89.

 

The day’s biggest gainers including Asos.com, which climbed 8.2 percent to 16.47 pounds, after posting a 43 percent rise in underlying profits in the year ended March 31. Yoox advanced 1.9 percent to 11.30 euros, while Marks & Spencer Group rose 1.6 percent to 3.43 pounds after posting an 18.2 slump in year-end profits earlier this week.

 

Among the stocks that lost ground were Brunello Cucinelli, which sank 2.3 percent to 10.68 euros; Hugo Boss, 2.6 percent to 75.80 euros, and Safilo Group, 1.6 percent to 4.43 euros.

 

The euro traded at $1.26 against the dollar, while the pound traded at $1.57.

 

The upswing in markets came despite some downbeat news in the U.K., where first quarter GDP was adjusted downward to decline of 0.3 percent from drop of 0.2 percent, by the Office of National Statistics. The reason was a worse than expected slump in the construction industry.

 

There is now increased speculation in the British press that the Bank of England will have to downgrade its 2012 growth forecast, and initiate a new round of quantitative easing.

 

Earlier this month, Bank of England governor Mervyn King already cut the U.K. growth target for 2012 to 0.8 percent from 1.2 percent.

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