* Fed policymakers discussed possibility of 50 bp rate cut
* Target, Lowe’s jump after better-than-expected results
* Indexes up: Dow 1.03%, S&P 0.85%, Nasdaq 0.95% (Recasts with release of Fed minutes; changes byline; adds New York to dateline)
By April Joyner
NEW YORK, Aug 21 (Reuters) - Wall Street’s main indexes rose on Wednesday as upbeat earnings from retailers pointed to strength in U.S. consumer demand, and stocks held gains after minutes from the Federal Reserve’s meeting last month showed that policymakers had debated a more aggressive rate cut.
U.S. stocks opened solidly higher following better-than-expected results from retailers Target Corp and Lowe’s Cos Inc. Target shares surged 19.4% after the big-box retailer raised its annual earnings forecast. Lowe’s shares climbed 10.3% after the home-improvement chain beat profit estimates.
Minutes from the Fed’s policy-setting meeting on July 30-31, when the Fed cut rates by 25 basis points, showed that policymakers debated cutting interest rates more aggressively. Some participants preferred a 50-basis-point cut, but the committee was united in wanting to avoid the appearance of being on a path to further rate cuts.
Stocks briefly pared gains following the release of the minutes at 2 p.m. ET (1800 GMT), but then returned to their levels prior to the release.
“The stocks still want to see any evidence that the Fed is going to cut rates,” said Willie Delwiche, investment strategist at Baird in Milwaukee.
“I don’t think there’s anything in here that would be an ‘aha!’ warning sign to stocks that they’re not going to get another rate cut.” he said. “But I also think that the longer-term picture of where the market sees rates ending up and where the Fed sees rates ending up might be different right now, and that’s going to have to get resolved at some point.”
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 268.33 points, or 1.03%, to 26,230.77, the S&P 500 gained 24.63 points, or 0.85%, to 2,925.14 and the Nasdaq Composite added 75.65 points, or 0.95%, to 8,024.21.
Reporting by April Joyner; Additional reporting by Lewis Krauskopf in New York and Medha Singh and Akanksha Rana in Bengaluru; Editing by Leslie Adler