Retail stocks slipped 0.4 percent Friday, but still managed a gain for the week as chains reported better-than-expected comparable-store sales in March.

 

The S&P Retail Index declined 2.12 points to 526.10, marking a 1.2 percent gain for the week. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.2 percent, or 29.44 points, to 12,380.05 Friday, approximately flat for the week.

 

Limited Brands Inc. rose 3.8 percent to $37.17 Friday, having established a new 52-week high of $37.20 in intraday trading, and Ann Inc. gained 2.6 percent to $30.67 Friday, having set a new high of $30.95.

 

Retailers posted a collective 1.7 percent rise in March comps Thursday, outpacing the 0.7 percent increase anticipated by analysts, according to Thomson Reuters. Consumers face rising food and gasoline prices, but the improving job market could help support a continued increase in spending, according to economists.

 

International markets were on the rise last week, despite the nuclear cleanup under way in Japan, renewed debt woes in Europe, the revolt in Libya and turmoil in the Middle East. The Hang Seng Index jumped 2.5 percent in Hong Kong, as the FTSE 100 rose 0.8 percent in London, the Nikkei 225 advanced 0.6 percent in Tokyo and the DAX increased 0.5 percent in Frankfurt.

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