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) -- Retail sales hit a seven-month high in October, significantly topping Wall Street's forecast.

Overall, sales grew 1.2%, according to the Commerce Department, better than the 0.7% uptick economists predicted.

This gain was predominantly driven by auto sales, which shot up 5%. Excluding autos, retail sales rose 0.4%, in-line with estimates.

Retail sales results bode well for the holiday season, and stocks were trading higher, as retailers report quarterly earnings results.



reported a 43% surge in third-quarter profit, but shares are in the red after the bell.

During the quarter the high-end department store earned $119 million, or 53 cents per share, compared with $83 million, or 38 cents, a year ago.

Nordstrom's revenue grew 11.2% to $2.18 billion from $1.96 billion.

Shares of Nordstrom are trading lower after hours, down 1.8% to $41.10.

Urban Outfitters


missed third-quarter sales forecasts, but beat profit expectations by a penny.

During the quarter the specialty apparel retailer earned $73 million, or 43 cents per share, compared with $62.4 million, or 37 cents, last year. Wall Street predicted a profit of 42 cents.

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Sales grew 13% to $574 million, short of estimates of $582.9 million. At its direct-to-consumer business sales jumped 31%, while sales at both Urban Outfitters and Anthropologie rose 5% and Free People outlets surged 29%.



sales were in focus today, as the No. 2 home improvement retailer issued a disappointing fourth-quarter outlook, citing continued uncertainty in the housing market and unemployment.

Sales in the third quarter grew nearly 2% to $11.59 billion, but this significantly missed outlooks of $11.75 billion. Same-store sales inched up 0.2%.

Net income rose 17% to $404 million, or 29 cents per share, from $344 million, or 23 cents, in the third-quarter last year. Excluding items, Lowe's actually earned 31 cents a share, a penny higher than forecasts.

For the full year, Lowe's now expects to earn in the range of $1.37 to $1.40 a share, with sales rising between 2% and 4%. Analysts are calling for a profit of $1.41 a share.



sales missed expectations, but profit beat forecasts as operating margins improved.

During the quarter the children's apparel retailer earned $34.4 million, or $1.26 per share, compared with $34.8 million, or $1.15 per share, in the year-ago period. Excluding costs related to the sale of the company, Gymboree actually earned $1.33 per share, better than consensus estimates of $1.28 per share.

Sales grew 4% to $280.9 million, while analysts were calling for sales of $284.9 million.

In October, private-equity group Bain Capital purchased Gymboree for $1.8 billion.

-- Written by Jeanine Poggi in New York.

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