Macy's shares jumped after the retailer reported third-quarter earnings and revenue that surpassed forecasts.
Erasing a 78-point deficit, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose to an intraday record of 15,822.98, before finishing with a gain of 70.96 points, or 0.5 percent, at 15,821.63, above its prior closing record set Monday, with Microsoft and Home Depot pacing blue-chip gains that included all but six of its 30 components.
The S&P 500 also advanced, adding 14.31 points, or 0.8 percent, to 1,782, above its Oct. 29 closing record and Oct. 30 intraday record. Consumer discretionary and technology were the best performing of its 10 major industry groups.
The Nasdaq was the first of the three benchmarks to step into positive terrain, after closing fractionally higher on Tuesday. On Wednesday it jumped 45.66 points, or 1.2 percent, to end at 3,965.58.
Advancers outdid decliners more than 2-to-1 on the New York Stock Exchange, where 696 million shares traded. Composite volume topped 3.3 billion.
Starbucks fell after the coffee chain revised its fourth-quarter results to show a loss following a court ruling Tuesday that awarded Kraft nearly $2.8 billion dollars. The money goes to Mondelez International, the grocery business that spun off last year, taking the Kraft name with it. Tesla Motors gained after co-founder Elon Musk said the electric-car maker would not recall its Model S after fires involving the sedan.
Of the 453 companies in the S&P 500 that have reported third-quarter earnings to date, 67.1 percent have beaten expectations, 9.9 percent were in line and 23 percent came in below expectations, according to Greg Harrison, a senior research analyst at Thomson Reuters. In a typical quarter, going back to 1994, 63 percent beat estimates, 17 percent matched and 21 percent missed, he said.
The top line was a slightly different story, with 53.2 percent reporting revenue above expectations and 46.8 percent missing, versus 61 percent beating and 39 percent missing in a typical quarter going back to 2002, Harrison noted.
The U.S. dollar edged lower against other global currencies and the yield on the 10-year Treasury note, used in figuring mortgages and other consumer loans, also declined, down 5 basis points at 2.73 percent.
The price of crude-oil futures rose 84 cents, or 0.9 percent, to $93.88 a barrel; gold futures fell for a fifth day, off $2.80, or 0.2 percent, to $1,268.40 an ounce.
Data released Wednesday by the Mortgage Bankers Association had applications for U.S. home loans dipping last week, although the prior week's fall was revised to less of a drop than initially reported.