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Retail Leads Wall Street Charge

Wal-Mart gets the majority of its Gulf Coast outlets reopened.
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Retail stocks rose Tuesday as companies reported fewer store closings than initially anticipated as a result of Hurricane Katrina.



said 18 stores remained closed in the Southeast, after it reported last week that upward of 120 stores were closed by the storm. Its shares were recently up 55 cents, or 1.4%, to $45.18. They shed 2.5% last week when the disaster struck.

On a prerecorded call, the retailer told investors that it would stick with its projected same-store sales gain of 2% to 4% in September compared with the same month last year. It also cautioned that the estimate was subject to change as more information about hurricane damage becomes available.

Last Thursday, Wal-Mart said same-store sales rose 3.3% in August, falling just short of Wall Street's expectations. The company has warned investors repeatedly that rising oil and gas prices have a negative effect on its core customer's capacity to spend.

Shares of Wal-Mart's chief competitor,

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, rose 69 cents, or 1.3%, to $53.85, and shares of

Home Depot


rose 48 cents, or 1.2%, to $40.81.

The S&P Retail Index was recently up 1.6%.