The Nasdaq composite index was up 11.08 points to 1,903.19, and the Dow Jones industrial average rose 72.66 to 9,823.61.
Although recent reports have shown that consumers are concerned about a slumping economy, that's apparently not stopping them from going to malls and car lots, where retail sales hit a record in October.
The Commerce Department said total retail sales zoomed up 7.1 percent to a seasonally adjusted $306.8 billion last month, the strongest sales surge for any month on record. That contrasts with a drop of 2.2 percent in September. Excluding autos, October retail sales rose 1 percent.
"Americans are recovering from their funk pretty darn quickly, and it takes an awful lot to stop Americans from spending money," said economist David Wyss of Standard & Poor's in New York.
HP surprised investors Wednesday, first by moving up the date of its fourth-quarter earnings release, and then by handily beating analysts' earnings estimates. The company recorded a pro forma profit of 19 cents per share on sales of $10.9 billion. First Call consensus was for an 8 cents-per-share profit on revenue of $9.87 billion. HP shares were up $1.85, or 9 percent, to $22.08 .
HP CEO Carly Fiorina took some time out of the company's conference call with analysts to plug its proposed merger with Compaq Computer. That deal has been under fire from representatives of both the Hewlett and Packard families. Compaq shares were up 95 cents to $9.75.
Vitesse Semiconductor was off 9 cents to $13.49, a day after the company announced it cut about 130 jobs, or 10 percent of its work force, to keep costs down amid flagging sales and tough times in the telecommunications industry.
Network Appliance plunged $2.90 to $15.29, a day after the company reported second-quarter results that beat analysts' estimates. The company had cautioned investors Tuesday that tough times won't be going away anytime soon and that earnings and revenues will be unchanged in the third quarter compared with the second quarter.
Yahoo will team with SBC Communications to sell DSL (digital subscriber line) services, a sign of the portal's growing interest in offering Internet access. Separately, Yahoo announced plans to add sponsored links to its directory and to add two new board members. Yahoo shares were up $1.24 to $15.21, and SBC was up 8 cents to $37.44.
Among other heavily traded tech issues, JDS Uniphase was up 36 cents to $10.93; Intel rose $1.27 to $31.32; Cisco Systems was up 28 cents to $19.86; and Oracle rose 40 cents to $14.92.
Amazon.com was up $2.20, or 30 percent to $9.49, buoyed in part by the Commerce Department report that total retail sales rose more than expected. AOL Time Warner rose 25 cents to $38.25.
Staff and Reuters contributed to this report.