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Investors were encouraged by better results at a range of retailers, including J.C. Penney, whose stock rose 25.3 percent. The chain swung to a fourth- quarter profit after a big loss in the same period a year earlier. Penney also had its first quarterly gain in a key revenue figure in more than two years. It expects continued improvement in the current quarter. Ahead of the results, Penney’s stock was down 35 percent so far this year and 72 percent over the past 12 months.