Wal-Mart's stock fell sharply, giving up 4 percent after the retailer gave investors a profit forecast that was weaker than they were expecting. Target said its profit rose but the company also said sales rose at a slower pace than last year. Target's stock edged up less than 1 percent.
The Dow Jones industrial average was up nine points at 12,580 in early trading Thursday.
The Standard & Poor's 500 index was up four points at 1,359 and the Nasdaq composite was up seven points at 2,853.
Data storage company NetApp was the biggest gainer in the S&P 500 index after the company reported earnings that beat analysts' expectations.