Dow Average caps longest rally since 1996 as retail sales gain

Jobs Progress

Progress in the job market is shoring up sentiment and spurring demand at merchants including Costco Wholesale Corp., easing the burden of a two percentage-point increase in the levy that funds Social Security. The boost to household wealth from home values and stock prices has also helped consumers maintain spending in the face of higher fuel prices.

“The retail number was nice and that’s helping lessen concern that high gas prices and taxes would combine to slow down consumer spending,” Erick Maronak, chief investment officer at Victory Capital Management Inc., said in a phone interview. The New York-based firm oversees about $3 billion. “On balance things look pretty good.”

Best Buy rallied 3.3 percent to $20.96, pacing gains among retailers amid today’s sales data. Abercrombie & Fitch added 2.7 percent to $49.77 and Nike Inc. rose 2.5 percent to $54.85.

Netflix jumped 5.6 percent to $192.36. The online video service began offering U.S. subscribers the ability to peer into each others’ digital movie libraries in a long-awaited partnership with Facebook. The features will become available starting today, the Los Gatos, California-based company said in a statement.

IBM Gains

IBM gained 0.7 percent to $212.06, the most in the Dow, to a record $212.06. The largest technology services provider has risen 11 percent this year as the company boosted earnings per share, divested underperforming units and moved into higher margin software businesses such as data analysis.

BlackBerry surged 8.2 percent to $15.65. The Canadian smartphone maker, formerly known as Research In Motion Ltd., said one of its “established partners” has placed an order for 1 million BlackBerry 10 phones. The new phones are the linchpin of its comeback strategy.

Walgreen Co. rallied 4.2 percent to $42.78, its highest level since July 2011, as UBS raised its rating on the drugstore chain to buy from neutral.

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