3 Reasons Markets Finished Up For the Second Straight Day

Markets closed up on Wall Street today: Dow +1.13%, S&P +0.53%, Nasdaq +0.61%, Oil -0.44%, Gold -0.20%.

On the commodities front, Oil (NYSE:USO) fell to $85.34 a barrel, while precious metals were mixed, with Gold (NYSE:GLD) falling to $1,748.00 an ounce and Silver (NYSE:SLV) rising 1.15% to $39.12 an ounce.

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Today’s markets were up because:

1) Retail sales. In July, retail sales posted their largest gain since March, climbing 0.5% according to the Commerce Department, which released the sales data this morning. Considering that consumer spending accounts for roughly 7o% of the economy, a 0.5% increase in retail sales bodes well for the economy.

2) Short-selling ban. France (NYSE:EWQ), Italy (NYSE:EWI), Belgium, and Spain (NYSE:EWP) all enacted short-selling bans in order to stabilize European markets amid fears that their banks, especially those in France, are falling short on funding and could be facing downgrades in the near future. Before the movie, European bank stocks were down to their lowest market valuations since the financial crisis. The ban seems to have had its intended effect, with European markets trading up today, especially French bank stocks like BNP Paribas and Societe Generale, both of which have declined significantly in the last month. However, that effect may not last, as short-selling bans tend to be a sign of panic, and a last resort for regulators.

3) Capital goods. The capital goods sector (NYSE:XLI) made a particularly good showing today, with gainers far outweighing losers. Some of the most heavily traded stocks today included Caterpillar (NYSE:CAT), Boeing (NYSE:BA), Honeywell (NYSE:HON), and United Technologies (NYSE:UTX). Dresser-Rand Group (NYSE:DRC) was the best performer in terms of percent gains in the capital goods sector, climbing nearly 7% today.

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