Retail Stocks Get Boost from Improved December Sales

Last month U.S. consumers spent more than twice the amount economists were expecting. Today, that has given several retail stocks a nice boost.

Though stocks as a whole are down a few ticks in early Tuesday trading, some of the top retailers are outperforming the other sectors. The Commerce Department released the December sales numbers this morning, and that appears to be the catalyst behind the rise in retail stocks.

Retail sales increased 0.5% in December – the largest month-to-month improvement since September. Analysts were expecting only a 0.2% increase. In November, U.S. retail sales climbed 0.4% from the previous month.

Improved auto sales and a recovering housing market played a large role in last month’s spending binge.

Minus auto sales, consumer spending was up just 0.3% in December. Clearly, a lot of people bought cars as a holiday gift.

So it’s no surprise that a prominent U.S. auto maker is among the day’s fastest risers.

Here’s a list of some of the more noteworthy retail stocks making a big move on today’s encouraging December sales news:

  • Ford (NYSE: F): +1.25
  • Lowe’s (NYSE: LOW): +1.1%
  • Home Depot (NYSE: HD): +0.5%
  • Macy’s (NYSE: M): +1%
  • J.C. Penney (NYSE: JCP): +0.8%
  • Sears (NASDAQ: SHLD): +0.9%
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