An economic potpourri including signs of progress in President Obama’s debt negotiations with Congress, stronger-than-expected housing starts and some solid second-quarter earnings lifted markets Tuesday and pushed retail stocks up 2 percent.


The S&P Retail Index gained 10.97 points to 549.16 — within striking distance of the sector’s all-time high of 559.73. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 1.6 percent, or 202.26 points, to 12,587.42 with IBM leading the index up following better-than-projected quarterly earnings.


Of the 169 stocks tracked by WWD, New York & Company Inc. led the way with an 8.4 percent increase to $5.78. Among the others padding their market capitalization were Casual Male Retail Group Inc., 4 percent to $4.44; Nordstrom Inc., 3.6 percent to $51.79, and Abercrombie & Fitch Co., 3.6 percent to $77.10.


Markets jumped midafternoon as President Obama praised a Senate proposal to break a deadlock over the debt ceiling that could cause a damaging default of U.S. obligations if a deal isn’t hammered out by Aug. 2.


“It’s time to get down to the business of actually solving this problem,” Obama said at the White House. “And I think we now are seeing the potential for a bipartisan consensus around what that would take.”


Investors were already feeling pretty good. The Commerce Department said June housing starts rose at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 629,000, better than the 575,000 economists had penciled in.

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