Solid corporate earnings propelled the Dow Jones industrial average up nearly 100 points early Tuesday despite weak news about the U.S. economy and a steady flow of worrisome headlines from Europe.
AT&T and 3M led the Dow higher after posting better-than-expected profits before the market opened. Hershey also beat expectations; it rose the most in the Standard & Poor's 500 index.
Apple, the biggest company by market value, will report its quarterly earnings after the close. Its stock fell sharply, limiting gains for the tech-heavy Nasdaq composite index.
The gains for blue chips were broad. Only two of the 20 stocks in the Dow fell. One was Wal-Mart Stores, still reeling after reports over the weekend that top company officials were aware of widespread bribery of foreign officials.
European stocks also rose modestly after one of their worst days in months. The losses came as investors feared that deficit-cutting agreements by some nations were close to unraveling.
On Tuesday, bond investors demanded much higher interest rates from Spain and Italy when they auctioned new debt, signaling more pain ahead for those debt-strapped countries.
A wave of mixed economic news did little to change the market's direction. Sales of new homes fell by 7 percent last month, the biggest decline in a year, the government said after markets opened. Home prices in most major U.S. cities fell in February for a sixth straight month.
Americans' confidence in the economy held steady despite rising gas prices and falling home values, according to the Conference Board, a private research group.
In addition to AT&T and 3M, IBM, Verizon and GE all rose by more than one percent. The Dow was up 96 points at 13,023 as of 10:15 a.m. EDT.
The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 6 to 1,373. The Nasdaq composite index rose 5 to 2,974.