Retail stocks managed small gains, all of them in the late afternoon, as investors shrugged off heightened tensions in Ukraine and focused on healthy earnings reports from Coca-Cola and Johnson & Johnson.

The S&P 500 Retailing Industry Group was up 0.1 percent to 855.47, adding to Monday’s 0.8 percent advance, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 advanced 0.6 and 0.7 percent, respectively, to 16,262.56 and 1,842.98. The Nasdaq also ended higher, up 0.3 percent to 4,034.16, for its second consecutive day of gains.

Among fashion, retail and beauty stocks monitored by WWD, The Estée Lauder Cos. Inc.’s shares rose 2.3 percent to $70.80 after it was added to Goldman Sachs’ “conviction buy” list early Tuesday. Twitter Inc. shares rose 11.4 percent to $45.52 for the largest gain among stocks on WWD’s radar, followed by gains of 6.6, 5.9 and 5.1 percent, respectively, for New York & Co. Inc., Sears Holdings Corp. and Aéropostale Inc., which ended the day at $4.55, $33.57 and $4.71.

Shares of Lands’ End Inc., recently spun off from Sears, were down 0.3 percent to $26.09. Larger declines hit Joe’s Jeans Inc., down 5.6 percent to $1.02; J.C. Penney Co. Inc., down 4.7 percent to $7.25, and Delia’s Inc., down 4.6 percent to 75 cents.

Penney’s shares are down 19.2 percent since closing at $8.97 on March 27.

European markets were closed before U.S. markets began their afternoon rally and all finished with declines, led by the FTSE MIB’s 2.3 percent drop in Milan, to 20,817.49. Frankfurt’s DAX was off 1.8 percent to 9,173.71 while the CAC 40 in Paris fell 0.9 percent to 4,345.35 and London’s FTSE 100 lost 0.6 percent to land at 6,541.61.

Losers outnumbered winners. Equities that fell included, which tumbled 9.1 percent to 45 pence; Luxottica, which was down 3.1 percent to 40.25 euros; Marks & Spencer, which fell 2.4 percent to 4.17 pounds, and Mulberry, down 2.7 percent to 7.10 pounds.

Among the few stocks in the sector that climbed were Esprit, up 4.3 percent to 13.60 Hong Kong dollars; Tod’s, which rose 3.5 percent to 98.55 euros, and French Connection, up 3 percent to 77 pence. Debenhams finished up 4.5 percent to 81 pence after detailing strategies to improve its performance as it reported a 25 percent dip in pretax profits to 85.2 million pounds, or $142.3 million, for the 26 weeks ended March 1.
The pound traded for $1.67 against the U.S. dollar, while the euro changed hands for $1.38 and the Hong Kong dollar equaled 12.9 cents.

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