Strong retail stats boost Wall Street

US stocks rose yesterday, snapping a four-day losing streak, after stronger-than-expected retail sales data eased concerns about the economy before today&rsquo;s important jobs data.<br /><br />After sharp falls this week, the broad S&amp;P 500 index finished above 1,000 as retailers&rsquo; August sales were joined by a survey showing improvement in the US services sector.<br /><br />Financials and retail stocks were among the day&rsquo;s leaders, with <strong>Bank of America</strong> up 3.5 per cent to $16.84, and <strong>Citigroup</strong> up 4.8 percent at $4.77. The S&amp;P financial sector index was up 2.3 per cent.<br /><br />&ldquo;It&rsquo;s the belief the economy is in the recovery stage. What&rsquo;s rallying today are things associated with economic growth,&rdquo; said Owen Fitzpatrick, head of the US equity group at Deutsche Bank Private Wealth Management.<br /><br />&ldquo;Granted, we're due for a pause, but the reality is we are in an economic recovery.&rdquo;<br /><br />The Dow Jones industrial average was up 63.94 points, or 0.69 per cent, at 9,344.61. The Standard &amp; Poor&rsquo;s 500 Index was up 8.49 points, or 0.85 per cent, at 1,003.24. The Nasdaq Composite Index was up 16.13 points, or 0.82 per cent, at 1,983.20. The S&amp;P is up about 48 per cent from its 12-year closing low on March 9.<br /><br />The Labor Department is due to release its non-farm payrolls figures this morning, which should shed light on the outlook for the economic recovery.<br /><br />The payrolls report, accompanied by the US unemployment rate for August, will come before a long Labor Day holiday weekend. US financial markets will be closed on Monday.<br /><br />Among retailers posting higher-than-expected sales in August were <strong>Costco Wholesale</strong> and <strong>Target</strong>.<br /><br />Costco&rsquo;s shares, which were upgraded by JPMorgan, climbed 8.6 per cent to $55, while Target gained 1.7 per cent to $47.07. The S&amp;P retail index rose 2.03 per cent.<br /><br />Gold prices climbed to their highest since late February, with spot gold hitting a peak of $997.20 an ounce before paring gains to $992.25 at the end of the day in New York. Mining company shares rose, with <strong>Newmont Mining</strong> up 4.5 per cent to $45.77 and <strong>Freeport-McMoRan Copper &amp; Gold</strong> 4.34 per cent higher at $64.48.