Stocks received a powerful lift when Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen said the Fed still saw the need to support the economy and would continue to do so.
Her comments during a conference in Chicago propelled stocks to gains, with both the Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 adding 0.8 percent to end the month and the quarter at 16,457.66 and 1,872.34, respectively.
Retail shares rose less dramatically as the S&P 500 Retailing Industry Group logged a 0.3 percent advance to end Monday’s trading session at 889.97, 5 percent below its starting point in March and 5.3 percent below the Dec. 31 close.
Specialty retailers attracted most of the largest gains among the sample of fashion, retail and beauty equities tracked by WWD. Cache Inc. shares were up 5.8 percent to $3.29 and American Apparel Inc. gained 5.1 percent to 50 cents. Stein Mart Inc. was up 4 percent to $14.01 while two California-based teen retailers in the midst of turnaround efforts, The Wet Seal Inc. and Pacific Sunwear of California Inc., had matching 3.9 percent increases to close at $1.32 and $2.97, respectively.
Shares of Coldwater Creek Inc. lost 76.1 percent of their value, closing at 16 cents, as reports of a possible voluntary Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing gained in volume. Before Monday’s sharp decline, their 52-week low had been 65 cents, reached on Friday.
J.C. Penney Co. Inc. shares were off 2.4 percent to $8.62 while the Birks Group Inc. and Movado Group Inc. logged 1.8 percent declines to close at $1.08 and $45.55, respectively.
European markets traveled in different directions. The FTSE MIB in Milan rose 0.7 percent to 21,655.01, while the FTSE 100 in London gained 0.2 percent to 6,598.37. But the Frankfurt’s DAX fell 0.3 percent to 9,555.91 and the CAC 40 in Paris lost 0.5 percent to 4,391.50.
A number of British stocks rose, including French Connection, which kicked off the week with a 9.4 percent increase to 70 pence; Debenhams, up 3.1 percent to 80 pence; Gemfields, which rose 4.9 percent to 37 pence, and Asos.com, up 2.5 percent to 51.49 pounds. Online retailer Boohoo.com gained 0.7 percent to 51 pence after reporting in a trading update Monday morning that its net revenues gained 62 percent to 109 million pounds, or $172 million, in the year ended Feb. 28.
Those stocks in the sector that fell in the day’s trading included Next, down 1.5 percent to 66 pounds; Safilo Group, which dropped 2.4 percent to 15.33 pounds, and Koovs, which tumbled 10.1 percent to 1.62 pounds.
The euro traded for $1.38 against the U.S. dollar while the pound changed hands for $1.66.