Stocks opened higher on Wednesday, putting the S&P 500 on track for its sixth winning day in the past seven on optimism that Slovakia would reach a deal to expand the euro zone rescue fund.

Slovakian lawmakers were expected to ratify the rescue fund plan. The country's parliament failed to approve a deal on Tuesday as the opposition party abstained as a way to help topple the government. Slovakia is the last country in the 17-member currency zone left to approve it.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel weighed in, saying she expected full ratification by the European Union summit on October 23.

It's like no bad news, we get to go up as long as you don't see any horror stories, said Frank Lesh, a futures analyst and broker at FuturePath Trading LLC in Chicago. At the moment it appears as if Europe has at least contained the crisis.

The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> gained 57.07 points, or 0.50 percent, to 11,473.37. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX><.INX> added 8.26 points, or 0.69 percent, to 1,203.80. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> advanced 21.68 points, or 0.84 percent, to 2,604.71.

Financials were among the best performers, with the KBW Bank index <.BKX> up 1.3 percent. JPMorgan Chase & Co gained 2 percent to $32.95.

Alcoa Inc fell 4.7 percent to $9.81 as one of the biggest drags on the Dow. The largest U.S. aluminum producer's third-quarter profit was lower than the second quarter and fell short of already-reduced expectations due to a slump in global metals prices.

But PepsiCo Inc
rose 2.5 percent to $62.45 after the soft drink and snacks maker reported slightly better-than-expected earnings, helped by international growth and the acquisition of a Russian beverage company, and affirmed its full-year target.

Liz Claiborne Inc surged 28 percent to $6.52 after the apparel company said it plans to sell off more of its major brands, including its namesake line, in the latest move to reduce its high debt load, and will change the company's name as it focuses on three key brands.

Later in the session, investors will also keep an eye on the Federal Open Market Committee's minutes from its September 20-21 meeting, to be released at 2 p.m. EDT. (Reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak; editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)