Encouraging words from Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke, and signs from the housing market, lifted stocks higher Friday and allowed retail shares to register a gain for the week.

This story first appeared in the August 24, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

The S&P Retail Index rose 2.2 percent on Friday to 366.35, erasing declines earlier in the week. That not only produced a 1.3 percent advance for last week, but put the year-to-date gain at 31.2 percent and growth since the index hit its all-time low on Nov. 21 at 76.6 percent. The retail index was reset in June 2002.

All three major indices moved ahead Friday on Bernanke’s proclamation that “the prospects for a return to growth in the near term appear good” and the National Association of Realtors’ report sales of existing homes rose 7.2 percent in July. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 2 percent for the week to 9,505.96 as the S&P 500 rose 2.2 percent to 1,026.13. The Nasdaq Composite ended the week at 2,020.90, up 1.8 percent.

For the year, the Dow is up 8.3 percent and the S&P 500 up 13.6 percent. Rivaling the ascent of retail stocks, the Nasdaq is 28.1 percent ahead of its closing mark of 2008.

Of 174 issues tracked by WWD, 112 had a positive week, seven were flat and 55 lost ground.

With the exception of Sears Holdings Corp., nearly all the major retailers and vendors reporting results last week saw their stock prices climb higher. Sears ended the week at $66.02, down 14.4 percent, after reporting a second-quarter loss that took investors and analysts by surprise. Aéropostale Inc. shares finished the week up 10.1 percent at $39.55 following double-digit gains in quarterly sales and profits reported late Thursday. With similar results, The Buckle Inc. was up 2 percent for the week, to $27.06. Target Corp. shares rose 8.6 percent, to $45.66, after reporting on Tuesday that its profits declined, although not as much as expected, on weak apparel and home sales.

The largest gain for the week came on the vendor side. Perry Ellis International Inc. shares were up 38.4 percent to $12.25 following the Miami-based firm’s report of a smaller quarterly loss on Wednesday, when shares rose 17.2 percent.

Off-pricers The TJX Cos. Inc. and Ross Stores Inc. both reported higher profits and sales for the second quarter, but Ross benefited more on Wall Street, with a 5.4 percent increase in its shares for the week, while its larger competitor saw its shares rise 2.2 percent.

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