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S&P 500 ends near record high after Fed-rate talk

U.S. stocks mostly advanced on Wednesday, lifting the S&P 500 to within reach of a record, after minutes from the Federal Reserve's last meeting showed some Fed officials want a "relatively prompt" rate hike based on the economy's progress.

Read MoreFed minutes: Some say more data needed

"What has accelerated more than anything is the debate. With (Fed Chair Janet) Yellen in particular, and the Fed in general, the general bias is leaving in place stimulus for as long as they can," said Bruce McCain, chief investment strategist, Key Private Bank

"The minutes could sound somewhat hawkish, as there is a lot to be optimistic about," said Anastasia Amoroso, Global Market Strategist at J.P. Morgan Funds, speaking before the Federal Open Market Committee release of minutes from its July 29-30 meeting, at which the central bank reduced its monthly bond buys by another $10 billion, with the purchases expected on end in October.

But, "whatever hawkishness comes out today will be because of better data, and will be offset by a dovish tone in Jackson Hole," she added of Friday's annual economic gathering in Wyoming, with Fed Chair Janet Yellen and European Central Bank President Mario Draghi both speaking.

Target shares turned higher after the discount retailer reported quarterly earnings beneath estimates but cut its forecast for the full year. Lowe's reported earnings that topped expectations but trimmed its guidance for full-year sales growth. The reading comes a day after rival Home Depot posted strong earnings.

Shares of Apple rose to an all-time high of $101.09.

Read MoreApple's got company: 14 more stocks at record highs

Shares of International Rectifier jumped after Germany's Infineon Technologies said it would acquire the U.S.-based seimiconductor company for about $3 billion in cash.

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The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 59.54 points, or 0.4 percent, to 16,979.13, with Home Depot leading blue-chip gains that included 22 of 30 components.

After rising above its record close of 1,987.98 set July 24, the S&P 500 ended up 4.91 points, or 0.3 percent, at 1,986.51, leaving it less than 5 points from its intraday record.

The Nasdaq slipped 1.03 point to 4,526.48.

Advancers pulled ahead of decliners on the New York Stock Exchange, where 542 million shares traded. Composite volume approached 2.6 billion.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury note used to figure mortgage rates and other consumer loans rose 3 basis points to 2.428 percent, and the dollar gained against the currencies of major U.S. trading partners.

On the New York Mercantile Exchange, gold futures for December delivery lost $1.50 to $1295.20 an ounce, and crude-oil futures for September delivery added $1.59 to $96.07 a barrel.

On Tuesday, U.S. stocks rose, with the Nasdaq Composite furthering gains that have it at a 14-year high, as economic reports offered a benign view on inflation and cast a better-than-anticipated light on the housing market.

Read MoreStocks end higher; Nasdaq hits another 14-year high

A woman walks down a staircase at the Wall Street subway station, New York City.
Scott Mlyn | CNBC
A woman walks down a staircase at the Wall Street subway station, New York City.

—By CNBC's Kate Gibson

Coming Up This Week:

Thursday

Earnings: Gap, Intuit, The Buckle, Dollar Tree, HormelFoods,Salesforce.com, Gamestop, Ross Stores, Brocade, Aeropostale, Royal Ahold, Mentor Graphics

8:30 a.m.: Jobless claims

10:00 a.m.: Existing home sales

10:00 a.m.: Philadelphia Fed survey

10:00 a.m.: Leading economic indicators

1:00 p.m.: $16 billion 5-year TIPs auction

Friday

Earnings: Ann, Foot Locker, Royal Bank of Canada

10:00 am Fed Chair Janet Yellen at Jackson Hole

2:30 pm European Central Bank President Mario Draghi

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