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VOL. 41 | NO. 28 | Friday, July 14, 2017

Encouraging news from Target

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NEW YORK (AP) — Target boosted its guidance for the second quarter after its campaign to revitalize the brand pushed sales higher and boosted customer traffic.

The rosier outlook pushed the entire beleaguered retail sector higher, with the indexes that track department stores and specialty retail stores leading the S&P 500 on Thursday.

Target expects a modest increase in sales at existing stores, reversing four consecutive quarters of declines for that measure.

The Minneapolis company had said in May that it expected a decline in the low single digits for the quarter.

It also said it expects second-quarter profits to be at the high end of its previous per-share guidance of between 95 cents and $1.15 per share.

It's an encouraging sign that efforts to increase the range of exclusive brands under its roof, push an everyday, low-price message and improve customers' experience online and in stores, are working. The company still faces stiff competition from Walmart and Amazon.com.

"Our team is energized and focused on enhancing and modernizing the Target shopping experience, and our guests are responding," said CEO Brian Cornell in a company release.

Cornell said that the May launch of a brand called Cloud Island, which offers nursery décor has been a success. The company is also set to launch four more exclusive brands in home and clothing in the next few months, part of bigger plan to offer 12 new exclusive store brands by the end of 2018.

Target releases its second-quarter financial results next month.

Shares rose 3 percent midday trading, and the stock in almost every retailer tagged along.

The sector has been hammered this year. The multiline retail index of which Target is a part has tumbled 19 percent so far in 2017, with most of the news on the retail front being awful. It led all gainers Thursday.