Brewing optimism over a less-bad second half is buoying up some of the biggest names in retail, including one battered stock that received a vote of confidence from Piper Jaffray on Tuesday.
Nordstrom shares were up more than 3 percent in afternoon trading, after analyst Neely Tamminga upgraded the company's stock to "overweight" from "neutral." Tamminga cited signs that department store's anniversary sale is off to a more robust start than last year, as a larger percentage of its merchandise is selling out.
Piper Jaffray's upgrade is just the latest indication that a gradually improving economy and a healthier base of consumers could be positioning the industry for a modest second-half recovery. Following three months of positive retail sales data, a survey released by the National Retail Federation last week found the average household with students in kindergarten through high school plans to spend 7 percent more on back-to-school shopping this year.
Meanwhile, a slew of economic data has spoken favorably about consumers' health, including better housing and unemployment numbers. And on Tuesday, the Conference Board's Consumer Confidence reading came in stronger than expected, just hours after the NRF raised its annual sales forecast.