Stocks rose in early trading Wednesday, sending major indexes back to record highs, as traders anticipated that the Federal Reserve will keep up its stimulus program for some time.

Spencer Platt, Getty Images

The Dow Jones industrial average was up 97 points, or 0.6 percent, to 15,717 in the first half-hour of trading. The Standard & Poor's 500 index was up 9 points, or 0.5 percent, to 1,772. Both indexes were above the record highs they closed at Oct. 29.

The Nasdaq composite rose 12 points, or 0.3 percent, to 3,952.

Traders took a lackluster retail sales report out of Europe on Wednesday as further evidence that European policymakers will trim interest rates again Thursday to maintain what so far been a shaky economic recovery in the region.

Germany's DAX rose 0.5 percent to 9,052 while the CAC-40 in France gained 1 percent to 4,292.

Investors will get a couple pieces of crucial U.S. economic data later this week. On Thursday, the Commerce Department will release a report on how well the U.S. economy performed in the third quarter and on Friday investors will get the October jobs report, which was delayed a week by the government shutdown.

Economists expect that the U.S. economy grew at an annualized pace of 2 percent in the third quarter, according to FactSet, a financial data provider, while the economy added 122,000 jobs in October. The unemployment rate is expected to edge higher to 7.3 percent from 7.2 percent in September.

Both pieces of data could give an indication of when the Federal Reserve will pull back its $85 billion-a-month bond-buying program, which is designed to keep interest rates low and boost the economy. The program also has a secondary effect of boosting stocks by making bonds look expensive by comparison.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved)