Retail stocks roared back Tuesday on signs of mounting economic vitality and indications e-commerce might supply some of the consumer spending energy brick-and-mortar retail formats appear to lack.

This story first appeared in the December 2, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Bouncing back from a 0.5 percent decline Monday, the S&P Retail Index began the month with a 7.28 point, or 1.8 percent, advance to 409.45 after falling as low as 397.49 in Monday’s session. The retail index outperformed the major indices, but all registered gains of 1.2 percent or more. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 1.2 percent to 10,471.58.

Among apparel, beauty and retail issues, no publicly held firm did better than Guess Inc., shares of which added $4.77, or 12.9 percent, to close at $41.82. After the market closed Monday, the Los Angeles-based denim and sportswear firm surprised analysts by reporting an increase in third-quarter profits and projecting fourth-quarter earnings more than 11 cents a diluted share higher than the existing consensus estimate. Also registering strong gains on Tuesday were Limited Brands Inc., up 5.8 percent to $17.55; Stage Stores Inc., 5.4 percent to $12.74; Jos. A. Bank Clothiers Inc., 4.9 percent to $42.80, and The Talbots Inc., 4.5 percent to $6.91.

The Institute for Supply Management reported Tuesday that U.S. manufacturing activity escalated for the fourth straight month in November, although at a slower rate than in October. ISM’s index fell to 53.6 percent last month, down from 55.7 percent in October. Ratings of more than 50 percent indicate overall growth in production. Meanwhile, the National Association of Realtors said pending sales of existing homes were up 3.7 percent in October, the ninth straight month of increases.

Stocks also benefited from weakness in the dollar, which lifted commodities prices, and a widely held sense that, with aid from Abu Dhabi being negotiated, peripheral damage from the Dubai debt crisis would be held to a minimum.

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