US STOCKS-Wall St gains on investor optimism, retailers

* BJ’s buyout report lifts retailers

* Indexes up: Dow 0.4 pct, S&P 0.2 pct, Nasdaq 0.2 pct

* For up-to-the-minute market news see [STXNEWS/US]
(Updates to early morning)

By Chuck Mikolajczak

NEW YORK, Dec 29 (BestGrowthStock) – U.S. stocks (Read more about the stock market today. ) advanced on
Wednesday as investors remained bullish about the prospects for
equities in 2011, keeping a December rally intact.

The S&P 500 has risen 6.7 percent this month, pushing the
benchmark index above levels reached on Sept. 12, 2008, the
last trading day before Lehman Brothers collapsed, as improving
economic data and a changed political landscape have encouraged
risk-taking.

“There is certainly a lot more optimism out there, either
founded or not, in terms of stock prices,” said Kevin
Kruszenski, head of listed trading at KeyBanc Capital Markets
in Cleveland.

“At the end of the day, most companies have prepared their
balance sheets, and they are looking to grow either organically
or through acquisitions. The U.S. market is probably seen as a
place to find high quality companies right now.”

The Dow Jones industrial average (.DJI: ) gained 40.83
points, or 0.35 percent, to 11,616.37. The Standard & Poor’s
500 Index (.SPX: ) rose 2.66 points, or 0.21 percent, to
1,261.17. The Nasdaq Composite Index (.IXIC: ) added 4.81 points,
or 0.18 percent, to 2,667.69.

Retailers rose as BJ’s Wholesale Club Inc (BJ.N: ) jumping 7
percent to $47.60 after the New York Post reported buyout firm
Leonard Green & Partners remained interested in buying the
warehouse club operator and may launch a hostile bid. For
details, see [ID:nSGE6BS065]

The Morgan Stanley Retail index (.MVR: ) climbed 1.1 percent,
and the S&P Retail index (.RLX: ) gained 0.6 percent.

Molycorp Inc (MCP.N: ), which owns a rare-earth mine in
Mountain Pass, California, was up 7 percent to $49.41 after
China cut export quotas on the minerals, threatening to reduce
already-tight global supplies and risking U.S. action.
[ID:nL3E6NT08N]

Private equity company Blackstone Group LP (BX.N: ) made a
preliminary offer for Centro Properties Group’s (CNP.AX: ) 600
U.S. shopping center properties, the Wall Street Journal
reported. Blackstone added 1.1 percent to $14.29.
[ID:nL3E6NT050]
(Reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak; editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)

US STOCKS-Wall St gains on investor optimism, retailers