August 21, 2019 / 3:35 PM / a month ago

US STOCKS-Target, Lowe's earnings drive Wall Street higher

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* Target, Lowe’s jump after better-than-expected results

* Banks rise as U.S. Treasury yields tick higher

* Minutes from Fed’s July meeting due at 2:00 p.m. ET

* Toll Brothers slips after posting decline in orders

* Indexes up: Dow 0.88%, S&P 0.74%, Nasdaq 0.89% (Changes comment, adds details; Updates prices)

By Medha Singh

Aug 21 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks advanced on Wednesday following upbeat earnings from retailers Lowe’s and Target that reinforced confidence in consumer demand, while investors awaited the release of the Fed minutes for further clues on the path of future rate cuts.

The reports come on the heels of solid Walmart Inc earnings and retail sales data last week that allayed fears of a U.S. recession.

Big-box retailer Target Corp surged 18.2%, the most on the S&P 500 index, after it beat quarterly profit estimates and raised its annual earnings forecast.

Home improvement chain Lowe’s Cos Inc rose 10.4% as it joined bigger rival Home Depot Inc in beating profit estimates.

Together their shares helped the retail index rise 1.94% and consumer discretionary sector 1.47%, the most among the major S&P sectors.

“Investors are counting on the strength of consumer spending,” said Rick Meckler, partner at Cherry Lane Investments, a family investment office in New Vernon, New Jersey.

“When they see good earnings in the sector, it gives them some confidence, particularly when there is a lot of concern about non-internet retailers.”

Adding to the upbeat sentiment, Bank of America Corp Chief Executive Officer Brian Moynihan played down fears of a potential U.S. recession and said strong consumer spending could keep the economy growing.

The highlight of the day will be the release of the minutes from the Federal Reserve’s July meeting, when it cut interest rates for the first time in more than a decade. The minutes are due to be released at 2 p.m. ET.

As U.S.-China trade tensions took a turn for the worse since the Fed’s move last month and adding to economic risks, investors will closely monitor comments from Chair Jerome Powell on Friday at the Jackson Hole Symposium for clues on what more the central bank plans to do to boost growth.

Meckler expects to see a dovish tone in Powell’s speech, “not so much because the U.S. is having economic problems but its a recognition of the fact that the rest of the world is having an economic slowdown.”

At 11:02 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were up 254 points, or 0.98%. S&P 500 e-minis were up 24.5 points, or 0.85% and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 76.25 points, or 0.99%.

Yields in U.S. Treasuries bonds ticked higher, a day after their fall pressured Wall Street and paused a strong rebound from last week’s selloff on recession fears.

The defensive utilities, consumer staples and real estate sector posted the smallest gains, reflecting investors’ appetite for risk.

Toll Brothers Inc slipped 3.4% after the luxury homebuilder posted a decline in orders, hinting at weaker demand for new homes.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by a 3.10-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and by a 2.27-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded 20 new 52-week highs and three new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 42 new highs and 38 new lows. (Reporting by Medha Singh and Akanksha Rana in Bengaluru Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty and Shounak Dasgupta)

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