The precarious state of sovereign debt on two continents failed to keep retail stocks from posting mild gains for the week.

 

With a 0.3 percent advance on Friday, the S&P Retail Index ended the week at 549.13, 1.2 percent better than on July 15 and 8.1 percent above its starting point in 2011. However, the retail index’s weekly gains fell short of those registered by the Dow Jones Industrial Average, up 1.6 percent to 12,681.16; the S&P 500, up 2.2 percent to 1,345.02, and the Nasdaq Composite, up 2.5 percent to 2,858.83.

 

As retailers entered the final weeks of their fiscal second quarters and first halves, a number of vendors checked in with financial results for their fiscal periods. VF Corp. finished the week with a 7.7 percent increase in its stock price, to $120.50, after reporting better-than-expected second-quarter results and lifting its full-year guidance on Thursday, while Hanesbrands Inc. was down 1.5 percent, to $31.22, after its third-quarter guidance, issued on Wednesday, fell below analysts’ expectations.

 

In addition to quarterly earnings, stocks reacted to ongoing talks in Washington concerning efforts to lift the U.S. debt ceiling and to discussions in Europe covering the sovereign debt of Greece and other overseas markets.

 

European markets shrugged off the uncertainty, leaving Paris’s CAC 40 up 3.1 percent to 3,842.70, London’s FTSE 100 up 1.6 percent to 5.935.02 and Frankfurt’s DAX up 1.5 percent to 7,326.39. All moved ahead on Friday and, like the major U.S. indices and the S&P Retail Index, all experienced declines in the prior week.

 

In Asia, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index was up 2.6 percent for the week, to 22,444.80, and Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 rose 1.6 percent to 10.132.11, but Shanghai’s SSE fell 1.8 percent to 2,770.80.

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