U.S. stocks extended gains by the final hour Wednesday as uncertainty over when the  Federal Reserve might make its initial move off of crises-level rates dissipated.
 
The S&P 500 rose 1.2%, the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 1.1%, and the Nasdaq climbed 1.4%.

Minutes from the central bank's October meeting indicated most Fed members supported a rate hike next month. Most Fed officials said that the conditions for a rate hike, including an improving labor market and inflation on an upward trend, would be met in December. However, members emphasized that no decision had been made and any move continued to be contingent on data.

A number of members argued against delaying a rate hike, a move which could foster global uncertainty and build up imbalances in economy. The Fed opted to leave rates unchanged at its meeting in October.

Three Fed officials backed a rate hike sooner than later in separate speeches Wednesday morning. Atlanta Fed President Dennis Lockhart, a voting member on the Fed's policy committee, said that international market volatility has calmed since the October meeting and that continued improvement in the labor market supported a rate hike.

Separately, Cleveland Fed Present Loretta Mester said that a small rate hike at the next meeting would not harm the economy, while Richmond Fed President Jeffrey Lacker also said he backed an interest rate move.

The housing market showed a rare sign of weakness in October after construction on new U.S. homes slid 11% to an annual rate of 1.06 million, according to the Commerce Department. The drop marked the lowest level of housing starts since early spring. Economists had expected starts to drop to 1.15 million. However, permits for new construction climbed 4.1% to 1.15 million, signaling that demand will pick up in coming months.


Target ( TGT - Get Report) shares fell 5.3% despite the retailer reporting its fourth straight quarter of traffic growth. The company earned an adjusted 86 cents a share, in line with estimates, while overall sales jumped 2.1% to $17.61 billion.

ON Semiconductor (ON - Get Report) was more than 7% lower after agreeing to buy Fairchild Semiconductor (FCS) in an all-cash deal worth $2.4 billion. The deal values Fairchild at a 41% premium to its price in mid-October, before reports of acquisition interest. Fairchild shares spiked 8.5%.


Norfolk Southern ( NSC - Get Report) climbed 6% after agreeing to "carefully evaluate" Canadian Pacific Railway's ( CP - Get Report) $28.4 billion bid. Norfolk Southern warned that a deal would face intense regulatory scrutiny.

Staples (SPLS)  fell 4% after a disappointing third quarter, including a sales decline of more than 6%. The company said North American offline and online sales tumbled nearly 8%, while comparable-store sales slid 2%.

Mobile payments processing company Square is set to price its IPO later Wednesday in a closely watched float. The company, run by Twitter (TWTR - Get Report) CEO Jack Dorsey, is one of the few private companies valued at $1 billion or more. Square previously set its IPO price range between $11 and $13 a share, valuing the company at up to $4.2 billion. Trading on the New York Stock Exchange is scheduled for Thursday.