With minutes from the Federal Reserve's last FOMC meeting indicating that there's no interest rate hike coming anytime soon, the Dow Jones industrial average (^DJI) gained 158 points, the Standard & Poor's 500 index (^GPSC) rose 15, and the Nasdaq composite (^IXIC) added 34 points.
Leading the blue chips upward, Goldman Sachs (GS), Verizon (VZ), Chevron (CVX), Microsoft and Cisco (CSCO) all rose 1 percent or more. Cisco, however, did warn of a "brutal" period of consolidation ahead for the tech sector, but that did not have much of an impact on trading Wednesday.
For the second day in a row, a slew of retailers posted earnings. Target's (TGT) numbers were in line with expectations, and the stock gained 1 percent. Over the past year, though, it's lost 20 percent. Target is still unable to estimate the total cost from last year's massive data breach.
Lowe's (LOW) edged lower. Its net was okay but sales were below expectations.
The teen apparel chain American Eagle (AEO) lost 6½ percent. Earnings fell sharply from a year ago, its forecast for the current quarter was weak and the company plans to close 150 stores.
PetSmart (PETM) fell 8 percent after forecasting a "challenging environment."
But Tiffany (TIF) shares glittered, up 9 percent. Net was weak, but sales topped expectations and the company upped its forecast for the year.
Also on the earnings front, cloud computing company Salesforce.com (CRM) fell 5 percent despite beating expectations.
And food maker Hormel (HRL), best known for its Spam and chili, fell nearly 3 percent.
Elsewhere, Trina Solar (TSL) jumped 30 percent after forecasting higher solar panel shipments.
And late in the session, cigarette maker Lorillard (LO) popped 10 percent on a Reuters report that it's in talks to be acquired.
Tecogen (TGEN), which produces electricity for industrial buildings, more than doubled in price after completing a stock offering.
And the insurance giant AIG (AIG) rose 2 percent on a Goldman Sachs upgrade to "buy."
What to Watch Thursday:
- The Labor Department releases weekly jobless claims at 8:30 a.m. Eastern time.
- At 10 a.m.: the National Association of Realtors releases existing home sales for April; Freddie Mac releases weekly mortgage rates; and the Conference Board releases leading indicators for April.
- Aeropastale (ARO)
- Best Buy (BBY)
- Dollar Tree (DLTR)
- GameStop (GME)
- Gap (GPS)
- Hewlett-Packard (HPQ)
- Perry Ellis International (PERY)
- Ross Stores (ROST)
- Sears Holdings (SHLD)
- TiVo (TIVO)
- Toronto Dominion Bank (TD)
- Zumiez (ZUMZ)