Health care stocks were leading early gains in U.S. trading, while the energy sector also rose as the price of oil recovered from a stumble.
Drug maker Hospira led the advance in health care, jumping 35 percent in early trading Thursday after the company agreed to be acquired by giant pharmaceutical company Pfizer.
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The Dow Jones industrial average rose 91 points, or 0.5 percent, to 17,765 as of 9:35 a.m. Eastern time Thursday.
The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 11 points, or 0.5 percent, to 2,051. The Nasdaq composite gained 12 points, or 0.3 percent, to 4,729.
U.S. crude oil rose 2 percent to $49.62 a barrel. Oil had plunged 8 percent the day before.
Bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 1.80 percent.