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Strong holiday outlook from Macy’s lifts stocks

Macy’s gave the stock market some early holiday cheer.

Stock indexes climbed back into record territory Wednesday after the department store chain gave an optimistic forecast for holiday sales. Macy’s surged 9 percent, leading strong gains among retailers including J.C. Penney, Nordstrom and Target.

The shopping season is a make-or-break time for retailers because it can account for as much as 40 percent of annual revenue. It also gives investors an indication of where consumer spending, a crucial component of the U.S. economy, is headed.

“When the consumer starts spending, it’s pretty much a rising tide,” said Ron Florance, deputy chief investment officer for Wells Fargo Private Bank. “That gives a big lift across the board.”

The S&P 500 rose 14.31 points, or 0.8 percent, to 1,782.00, its 34th record close this year.

The Dow Jones industrial average gained 70.96 points, or 0.5 percent, to 15,821.63, also a record. The Nasdaq composite rose 45.66 points, or 1.2 percent, to 3,965.58, well below its record close of 5,048.52 reached in March 2000.

Macy’s jumped $4.35 to $50.68. Its earnings climbed 22 percent for the quarter ended. Nov. 2. The department store chain, which rose the most in the S&P 500 index, was the first major retailer to report earnings for the quarter.

U.S. stocks started the day lower as investors considered when the Federal Reserve might start reducing its economic stimulus.

“We’re in a pause as everyone waits for more data,” said Kate Warne, a strategist at investment adviser Edward Jones.

Investors will closely follow today’s confirmation hearing for Janet Yellen, who has been nominated to succeed Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, for clues about when the Fed may begin to pull back its economic stimulus.

Chegg, an online textbook rental company, flopped on its first day of trading, slumping $2.82, or 22.6 percent, to $9.68. Another market debut did much better: Extended Stay America, a hotel operator, jumped $3.87, or 19 percent, to $23.87.

In stocks of regional interest:

Capitol Federal Financial rose 5 cents, or 0.41%, to close at $12.30.

Cerner Corp. rose 31 cents, or 0.55%, to close at $56.78.

Commerce Bancshares Inc. rose 53 cents, or 1.15%, to close at $46.81.

Compass Minerals rose $1.11, or 1.53%, to close at $73.45.

DST Systems Inc. fell 81 cents, or 0.92%, to close at $87.10.

Ferrellgas Partners L.P. rose 30 cents, or 1.28%, to close at $23.68.

Garmin Ltd. rose 4 cents, or 0.09%, to close at $45.89.

Great Plains Energy rose 30 cents, or 1.26%, to close at $24.20.

H&R Block Inc. rose 68 cents, or 2.48%, to close at $28.08.

Kansas City Life Insurance Co. rose $1.13, or 2.52%, to close at $45.98.

Kansas City Southern rose $1.21, or 0.98%, to close at $125.04.

O’Reilly Automotive Inc. rose $1.16, or 0.94%, to close at $125.20.

Sprint Corp. rose 7 cents, or 1.00%, to close at $7.06.

UMB Financial Corp. rose 36 cents, or 0.59%, to close at $61.90.

Waddell & Reed Financial Corp. rose $1.32, or 2.07%, to close at $65.16.

YRC Worldwide Inc. fell $2.01, or 20.68%, to close at $7.72.

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