US stocks gained on Tuesday after the Federal Reserve said some policy makers wanted to take more action to stimulate the economy during their meeting this month.
The Dow Jones industrial average was up 20 points, or 0.18%, at 11,560. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index was up three points, or 0.23%, at 1,213. The Nasdaq Composite Index was up 14 points, or 0.55%, at 2,576.
Stocks surged near the close of the market after minutes of the Fed's 9 August meeting showed the central bank had considered bold steps to help the fledgling economy.
Earlier in the day equities declined after the Conference Board, an industry group, reported consumer confidence crumbled in August to its lowest level in more than two years. However, it boosted the growing belief the Fed will have to intervene with aggressive steps when it meets in late September.
Separately, single-family home prices declined slightly in June as the market crawled along at depressed levels.
Financials were the day's big losers, with Bank of America off 3.2% and JPMorgan Chase down 1.5%.
Elsewhere, Exxon Mobil fell 0.3% after news that the company and state-owned Russian peer Rosneft will develop oil and gas reserves in the Russian Arctic.
On the positive side, Caterpillar rose 1.9% and Boeing gained 2.2% after it was upgraded to "neutral" by Nomura.
Dollar General gained 5.8% after its quarterly earnings rose from the prior year.
Equities in Asia advanced for a fifth day on Wednesday in afternoon trade on speculation the US Fed may announce measures to shore up the the economy in September.
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index gained 0.6% to 124 as 1:31 p.m. in Tokyo. In Japan, Nikkei Stock Average 225 was little changed. Korea’s KOSPI Index was up 1.5%, while Australia’s ASX All Ordinaries Index was trading 0.09% higher. In China, Shanghai Composite Index was off 0.53% and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index gained 0.35%.
In company news, Honda Motor rose 1.7% in Tokyo, Olam International surged 6.9% in Singapore after posting higher fourth-quarter profit and Telecom of New Zealand was down 4% in Wellington after releasing details of a demerger and saying its chief executive officer will step down.