Better-than-expected January sales helped retail stocks push through a massive snowstorm, upheaval in Egypt and a mixed reading on the job market to modest gains for the week.

 

The S&P Retail Index rose 1.1 percent, or 5.29 points, to 507.22 Friday, making for a 1.7 percent increase for the week. The Dow Jones Industrial Average advanced 0.3 percent, or 29.89 points, to 12,092.15, a 2.3 percent rise for the week. Of the 171 stocks tracked by WWD, 129 rose this week, while three were flat and 39 fell.

 

Among Friday’s retail gainers were Nordstrom Inc., up 4 percent to $43.71; Abercrombie & Fitch Co., 3.3 percent to $51.43; Urban Outfitters Inc., 2.7 percent to $34.76, and Macy’s Inc., 2.6 percent to $22.82.

 

Retailers posted a better-than-projected same-store sales gain of 4.8 percent last month, according to The International Council of Shopping Centers’ tally.

 

Despite the nice sales gain, the recovery is still finding its footing. The Labor Department said January payrolls grew by 36,000, well below the 146,000 economists expected. But the unemployment rate, which is tallied separately, fell to 9 percent from 9.4 percent in December.

 

“Recent indicators on the U.S. economy continue to have a positive spin, notwithstanding the ambiguities in the January employment report,” said IHS Global Insight U.S. economists Brian Bethune and Nigel Gault. “Strong gains in January manufacturing employment definitely corroborate the recent up move in the ISM manufacturing indicator, and these are high-paying jobs, so that should boost wages and salaries.”

 

Markets were also on the rise in Europe and Asia last week. The FTSE 100 rose 2 percent in London as the DAX increased 1.6 percent in Frankfurt and the CAC 40 gained 1.1 percent in Paris. The Nikkei 225 added 1.8 percent in Tokyo and the Hang Seng Index was up 1.2 percent in Hong Kong.

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