Wall Street gained overnight, pushing the Nasdaq to a record high, amid better-expected earnings such as for Best Buy and stronger-than-expected new home sales, while an easing in manufacturing bolstered hope the Federal Reserve might not raise interest rates.
Fed Chair Janet Yellen is scheduled to speak on Friday, comments that are eagerly awaited in terms of fresh clues on the timing of a US rate hike.
"The earnings season is largely over and the only thing we can look at is Fed-speak which is antagonising," Brian Frank, portfolio manager at Key Biscayne, Florida-based Frank Capital Partners, told Bloomberg. "We're in the most aggressive dip-buying market I've ever seen. I wouldn't even call the last two days a dip, but any little tiny decline seems to be an excuse to buy and talk about the Fed."
In 3.21pm trading in New York, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.2 percent, while the Nasdaq Composite Index gained 0.3 percent. In 3.06pm trading, the Standard & Poor's 500 Index added 0.4 percent. The Nasdaq touched a record high 5,275.74.
The Dow moved higher as advances in shares of Nike and those of Cisco, up 1.9 percent and 1.2 percent respectively, outweighed slides in shares of Wal-Mart and those of Boeing, each 0.6 percent weaker respectively.
Shares of Best Buy soared, up 18.9 percent as of 3.12pm in New York, after the company reported quarterly earnings that exceeded estimates, underpinning optimism about a turnaround.
There were disappointments too. Shares of JM Smucker dropped after the company downgraded its full-year sales estimate because of weakness in its new pet foods division, acquired last year.
Net sales, excluding one-off items, are expected to range from flat to down 1 percent this year, the company said in a statement. It previously had predicted a 1 percent increase.
Shares of Smucker sank, trading 8.4 percent weaker as of 1.44pm in New York.
Shares of Monsanto rose. Negotiations between Bayer and Monsanto are advancing toward a deal after the companies made progress on issues including the purchase price and termination fee, Bloomberg reported, citing people familiar with the matter.
Shares of Monsanto climbed 3.2 percent as of 2.21pm in New York, while those of Bayer gained closed 0.7 percent higher in Frankfurt.
The latest US housing data offered reason for optimism.
A Commerce Department report showed new home sales climbed 12.4 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 654,000 units in July, the highest level in almost nine years.
"This marginally raises our near-term outlook for the housing market, as tightness in the new home market suggests further impetus to new construction ahead," Andrew Hollenhorst, an economist at Citigroup in New York, told Reuters.
In Europe, the Stoxx 600 Index finished the day with a 0.9 percent advance from the previous close. The UK's FTSE 100 index increased 0.6 percent, France's CAC 40 index rose 0.7 percent, while Germany's DAX index climbed 0.9 percent.