Standard & Poor’s upgraded Saks Inc.’s corporate credit rating to “BB-minus” from “B-plus,” leaving the firm’s debt just three notches into speculative, or “junk,” territory.

 

“The upgrade reflects the company’s good performance during the seasonally important fourth quarter and significant improvement in credit protection metrics over the past year,” said S&P credit analyst David Kuntz. “The ratings on luxury retailer Saks reflect substantial performance gains over the past year as well as our expectations for further growth over the near term.”

 

Despite the vote of confidence, shares of the firm dipped 0.5 percent to $12.90.

 

On the other end of the retail spectrum, shares of Target Corp. fell 2.4 percent to $51.90 with nearly 23 million shares trading hands, better than three times the usual number.

 

There were no apparent developments at the discounter, which like Saks and other broadline retailers reports fourth-quarter results next week. February options contracts expired Friday, which likely added to the volume.

 

The S&P Retail Index perked up 0.1 percent, or 0.44 points, to 526.80, making for a 0.5 percent gain for the week. The Dow Jones Industrial Average advanced 0.6 percent, or 73.11 points, to close at 12,391.25 Friday, a 1 percent rise for the week.

 

Of the 171 stocks tracked by WWD, 106 rose last week, three held steady and 62 dropped.

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