NEW YORK (
) -- Consumers are the most optimistic they've been since the recession began, and retail investors are sharing in their giddiness.
Stocks across the sector were trading broadly in the green Tuesday, with the S&P Retail Index gaining 2% to 368.67 in morning action.
The Conference Board said Tuesday its Consumer Confidence index rose to 54.1 in August from 47.4 in July. Economists expected a slight increase to 47.5.
Retail's Got It Going On
While the index was still far below 90, the minimum level associated with recovery, other good news in the retail sector showed promise.
Consumers' expectations for the economy over the next six months rose, according to another Conference Board measure, to 73.5 from 63.4 in July, the highest level since December 2007, when the recession began.
And it looks like shoppers are following through with this glass-half-full mindset. Retail sales for the week ended Aug. 22 rose 0.6%, according to a report by the International Council of Shopping Centers and Goldman Sachs.
With temperatures heating up across the country, the biggest gains were seen in sales of fans and air conditioners, a plus for discounters like
In fact, the close-out retailer reported a 9% jump in second-quarter profit, as shoppers turn to bargain stores for lower prices on necessities like cleaning products and paper goods.
Shares of the company soared 8% to $25.98 in midday trading. Rival
was up 1% to $52.25,
rose 3% to $46.68, and
increased 3% to $49.47.
Another big gainer
, resulting in an 9% hike in morning trading to $13.01.
The better-than-expected results sent shares of other women's apparel retailers higher in Tuesday's session.
grew 4% to $13.69,
increased 4% to $6.24,
New York & Company
rose 6% to $4.62 and
( DBRN) climbed 4% to $16.30.
One of the only retailers in the red was
due to a hefty restructuring charge and soft sales.
Shares of the office-supplies retailer slipped 0.5% to $22.08.
-Reported by Jeanine Poggi in New York.
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