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Morgan Stanley upgrades view on clothing retailers

The Associated Press

Morgan Stanley analyst Kimberly Greenberger said Monday that the year's worst blows to retailers that sell clothing and other goods may have passed and upgraded her view on the industry.

THE OPINION: "Softline" retailers — sellers of clothing, shoes, towels and other items that are literally soft — have been struggling with cooler temperatures and a tough comparison to strong sales last year. But recent trends for the broader economy are improving, the weather outlook looks better for summer and retailers have easier comparisons for the May-July quarter, Greenberger said in a research note.

Greenberger raised her view on retailers and department stores from "Cautious" to "In-Line." That suggests she thinks the retailers' shares will track the Standard & Poor's 500 index.

THE BIG PICTURE: U.S. consumers increased spending last month despite higher Social Security taxes that kicked in this year. The Commerce Department said Monday that retail sales increased 0.1 percent in April from March. That's an improvement from the 0.5 percent decline in March, which was the largest drop in nine months.