The S&P 500 was on target to hit another record on Wednesday following Tuesday's gains, while Target (TGT) - Get Report posted record quarterly sales amid a surge in consumer demand, particularly online.
The S&P 500 gained 0.1% Wednesday to 3,393, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 0.4% to 27,890 and the Nasdaq slipped 0.01%.
The broad S&P 500 index gained 0.23% on Tuesday to close at 3,389, breaking its pre-pandemic record set on Feb. 19. The Nasdaq also set an all-time closing high.
The S&P 500 has rallied 51.5% since March as aid from the Federal Reserve and economic stimulus from Congress fueled the remarkable rebound.
Helping propel the retail segment were stellar quarterly earnings from Target, which rose nearly 12% after posting much stronger-than-expected second-quarter earnings, driven in large part by. 200% surge in digital sales.
Target also said comparable-store sales growth of 24.3% in the second quarter was the strongest it has ever reported.
Same-store sales at the home-improvement retailer jumped 34.2%, well above forecasts of 16.3%, and U.S. same-store sales soared 35.1%. The stock gained 0.59%.
Also lifting optimism Wednesday were hints from Democratic and Republican leaders that they are moving a bit closer to reigniting stalled coronavirus stimulus discussions. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi suggested Democrats could make more cuts to their $3.5 trillion relief proposal.
Meantime, investors will be keeping an eye out for the Federal Reserve's most recent minutes from its July Federal Open Market Committee meeting, to be released at 2 pm ET, for clues on how Fed officials view the current trajectory of the economy.
Following that will be earnings from Jim Cramer's favorite dog -- Nvidia -- which is expected to report earnings after the closing bell on Wednesday.