Investors were also encouraged by McDonald's Corp.'s upbeat outlook for third-quarter earnings, which sent shares of the Dow component up more than 1 percent.
According to government reports, retail sales rose more than expected last month despite worries the housing slump would cause consumers to keep a tight grip on their wallets.
In addition, data showed price rises last month were under control at 10 a.m. EDT.
"The retail numbers are where the action is. With all the concerns about the consumer, and the fact a number of retailers suggested weaker sales this week, this is a big number," said Jim Paulsen, chief investment officer at Wells Capital Management in Minneapolis.
The Dow Jones industrial average was up 9.19 points, or 0.07 percent, at 14,024.31. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index was up 1.49 points, or 0.10 percent, at 1,555.90. The Nasdaq Composite Index ( was up 12.36 points, or 0.45 percent, at 2,784.56.
McDonald's shares rose to $56.90 on the New York Stock Exchange.
On the Nasdaq, shares of business software maker BEA Systems Inc jumped after Oracle Corp proposed a $6.66 billion takeover of the company.