Retail stocks jumped 4.5 percent after encouraging news from the troubled home improvement sector.

This story first appeared in the May 19, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

The S&P Retail Index advanced 13.97 points to 326.86 as the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 2.9 percent, or 235.44 points, to 8,504.08 — the index’s third close above 8,500 since Jan. 9.

Some of the good vibes came from a stronger-than-anticipated first quarter for Lowe’s Cos. Inc. The home improvement retailer reported earnings of 32 cents a share, ahead of the 25 cents analysts anticipated and enough to give investors hope for upside potential in the retail and housing markets.

The fashion world mostly tagged along for the rally, but some firms surged on their own headlines.

Dillard’s Inc. shot up 35.6 percent to $10.18 after the company reported Friday that its first-quarter earnings almost tripled to $7.7 million.

Shares of Saks Inc. increased 22.2 percent to $4.08 ahead of its first-quarter report today. On Friday, regulatory filings showed that Tod’s SpA chairman and chief executive officer Diego Della Valle doubled his investment in the luxe retailer to 5.9 percent of the firm’s common stock.

P. Schoenfeld Asset Management, which controls about 1.5 percent of Saks common stock, urged shareholders to back its efforts to make the luxury retailer and the company board more accountable. P. Schoenfeld is trying to get stockholders to withhold support for the reelection of director C. Warren Neel, who sits on the board’s governance and nominating committee. P. Schoenfeld has been critical of Saks’ governance, and the investment group is trying to reduce directors’ terms to one year from three years.

Most European fashion stocks rose Monday, including: PPR, up 4.4 percent to 58.40 euros, or $78.83; Richemont, 4 percent to 23.52 Swiss francs, or $20.98; Marks & Spencer, 3.6 percent to 339.25 pence, or $5.15, and LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, 3.5 percent to 60.03 euros, or $81.03.