Stocks closed higher Wednesday as big U.S. retailers gave markets a boost and minutes from the Federal Reserve's last meeting kept hopes alive for a September interest rate cut.
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Shares of Target traded higher after quarterly results beat expectations and the retailer bumped up its annual forecast.
Lowe's also beat same-store sales and profit estimates, sending shares of the home improvement chain higher.
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Those results signaled that the nation's consumer discretionary sector remains robust.
Other sectors giving major equity averages a boost Wednesday were trade-sensitive technology companies and energy corporations.
A newly signed trade deal between the U.S. and Mexico regulating tomato imports boosted investor sentiment.
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Under the multi-year deal, tomatoes coming into the U.S. from Mexico are duty-free. There will be a set price at $0.31 cents per pound for roma and round tomatoes. The range tops out at $0.59 cents per pound for specialty tomatoes. Organic tomatoes can be up to 40 percent more than this because of added growing costs.
Fed officials who voted to lower interest rates at the end of July saw their decision as part of a policy recalibration in the face of a darkening economic outlook.
Minutes from the July 30-31 Federal Open Market Committee meeting published Wednesday revealed that most policymakers believed the decision to cut the benchmark federal funds rate — for the first time since the financial crisis 11 years ago — was part of a mid-cycle adjustment, not the beginning of a series of deeper rate cuts.
The central bank's chief, Jerome Powell, may signal more stimulus in his speech Friday at a meeting in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.
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The yield on the 10-year Treasury rose to 1.58 percent.
The National Association of Realtors said existing home sales rose 2.5 percent in July which was better than expected.
The major European markets closed higher. London's FTSE was up 1.1 percent, Germany's DAX climbed 1.3 percent and France's CAC jumped 1.7 percent.
In Asian markets, Tokyo's Nikkei shed 0.3 percent, Hong Kong's Hang Seng inched up 0.2 percent and China's Shanghai Composite was little changed.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.