Stocks Opened Up after Upbeat Retail Sales

U.S. stocks opened with robust gains on Friday after an encouraging report on retail sales in July bolstered sentiment ahead of consumer-confidence data. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lately rose 121.32 points to 11,264.63. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index climbed 10.88 points to 1,183.52. The Nasdaq Composite Index advanced 12.34 points to 2,505.02.

Retail sales in July posted their biggest gain since March. Sales climbed 0.5 percent, in line with analyst forecasts and following an upwardly revised 0.3 percent gain in June, according to Commerce Department data released on Friday.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has asked rating agency Standard & Poor’s (S&P) to disclose which employees knew of its decision to downgrade U.S. debt before it was announced last week, the Financial Times said.

Bank of America Chief Executive Brian Moynihan met privately this week with Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Federal Reserve governor Daniel Tarullo amid the campaign to calm investors and employees about the bank’s share price fall, the Wall Street Journal reported.

J.C. Penney Co. reported a flat second-quarter profit on Friday as the department store retailer aggressively marked down prices on fashions to get its middle income shoppers to keep spending in an increasingly uncertain economy.

U.S. stock mutual funds are forecast to set a new record for investor withdrawals in August as Americans recoil from the biggest equity-market slump in three years and the first-ever downgrade of Treasuries.

A piecemeal ban on short-selling of financial stocks in Europe sparked a rush of alternative proposals from countries and regulators on Friday and investors said the row undermined a rally in bank shares.

Oil prices fell below $85 a barrel Friday in Asia as investors tried to make sense of a week of sharp zigzags in the equity and commodities markets. Benchmark oil for September delivery was down $1.08 to $84.64 a barrel at late afternoon Singapore time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

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