Stocks opened higher on Wednesday after the head of the European Commission said it will present options for joint euro zone bonds, a tool that investors view as a step forward to addressing the region's debt crisis.

Equities were off the highs suggested by the futures, hurt by a weaker-than-expected reading on August retail sales.

The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> was up 64.03 points, or 0.58 percent, at 11,169.88. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> was up 7.21 points, or 0.61 percent, at 1,180.08. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> was up 19.72 points, or 0.78 percent, at 2,551.87.

(Reporting by Ryan Vlastelica)