The Standard & Poor's Retail Index (RLX) rose to an all-time closing high Tuesday, as a report on increased consumer confidence boosted several of its components to new 52-week highs.The index finished up 3.64 points, or 0.9%, at 404.44, just above its April 23 close of 404.34. It comprises about 40 retailing and food and drug retail stocks in the S&P 500. Similarly, the Retail HOLDRs ( RTH) exchange traded fund moved 1% higher Tuesday to close at $93.69 -- less than $3 from its 52-week high. Shortly after the market opened Tuesday, the Conference Board reported that its consumer confidence index rose in April to 92.9, up from last month and higher than economists had expected. The increase of 4.4 percentage points was the largest rise from the previous month since a 10.8-percentage-point increase in November 2003. Most importantly, perhaps, the percentage of consumers claiming jobs are hard to get fell to its lowest level since November 2002, and more consumers expect this trend to continue. The finding boosted the hopes of investors, who use confidence surveys as evidence that a recovery will be sustained by job growth and consumer spending, which accounts for two-thirds of economic activity in the U.S. The news demonstrated the sector's recent strength and seemed to suggest that consumers may be more resilient than previously thought to the Federal Reserve's eventual interest-rate hike. Several retailers set or neared 52-week highs Tuesday: J.C. Penney ( JCP) closed up 13 cents, or 0.4%, at $36, just below its 52-week closing high of $36.10 hit April 21. The shares hit a 52-week intraday high of $36.77 Tuesday, however. The stock price has more than doubled from a year ago. Shares of off-price retailer TJX Cos. ( TJX) closed up 7 cents, or 0.3%, at $25.71, eking out an all-time closing high by a penny, from their previous closing high of $25.70 on April 23. The shares also hit a new intraday high of $26.12 in the session.
Limited Brands ( LTD) finished the session up 38 cents, or 1.8%, to $21.45, a new 52-week closing high. The shares also set a new 52-week intraday high of $21.65 during the session. CVS ( CVS) closed down 7 cents, or 0.2%, at $39.03, slightly below its 52-week closing high of $39.10 hit Monday. The shares hit a new 52-week intraday high of $39.80 on Tuesday and are up 62% year over year. Meanwhile, coverage of Walgreen ( WAG) was initiated by Deutsche Bank with a buy rating Tuesday, helping the stock close up 85 cents, or 2.5%, at $34.25. Among other S&P retail components, Best Buy ( BBY) closed up 95 cents, or 1.7%, at $55.74 and Nordstrom ( JWN) added 67 cents, or 1.8%, to $38.72.