U.S. stocks rose Wednesday as shares of energy companies climbed with the price of oil and earnings reports offered fresh signs of profitability at banks.
Better-than-expected results from Morgan Stanley and Halliburton on Wednesday helped put the S&P 500 on track for a second consecutive day of gains for the first time in nearly two weeks.
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Stocks have struggled to hold a rally in recent sessions as earnings reports have provided a unclear picture of corporate health amid ongoing concerns about the slow pace of economic growth and stretched valuations.
"Earnings are just good enough to hold the line here," said Phil Blancato, chief executive at Ladenburg Thalmann Asset Management.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 67 points, or 0.4%, to 18228. The S&P 500 rose 0.3%, and the Nasdaq Composite advanced 0.1%.
Energy stocks gained the most in the S&P 500, rising 1.5% as the price of oil climbed to its highest level since July 2015. U.S. crude added 2.6% to $51.60 a barrel after data showed a surprise reduction in U.S. crude inventories last week . Halliburton rose more than 5% after the oil-field services provider posted a surprise profit following a year of losses.
Financial stocks in the S&P 500 advanced 1% after Morgan Stanley became the latest big U.S. bank to beat analysts' expectations, helped by a rebound in trading. Morgan Stanley added 2.1%. Banks have been a bright spot in earnings season, with the KBW Nasdaq Bank Index of large U.S. commercial lenders up more than 3% this month.
The results from lenders in recent sessions "reframes the view of the largest banks in a more optimistic way," said Tom Wright, director of equities at JMP Securities.
Yahoo rose 2.7% after the company on Tuesday posted an increase in third-quarter profit, while shares of Intel slid 5.5% after the company's estimate for revenue came in slightly below projections.
U.S. government bonds paused after a two-day rally, with the yield on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note at 1.752%, compared with 1.748% on Tuesday.
The Stoxx Europe 600 rose 0.3%. The retail sector led gains, while the telecom sector was the worst performer, with U.K. carrier Vodafone Group down 1%.
European Central Bank officials hold a policy meeting in Frankfurt on Thursday. Many investors are expecting ECB President Mario Draghi to reassure the market about the bank's expansive bond-purchase program after a report of a possible abrupt end to quantitative easing unsettled markets earlier this month.
Earlier, markets in Asia were mixed after data showed China's economy expanded 6.7% in the third quarter from a year earlier, in line with market expectations.
Investors have been watching data on the world's second-largest economy more closely in recent sessions after surprisingly downbeat Chinese trade figures last week sparked losses in global equity markets.
Stocks in Hong Kong fell 0.4%, while Shanghai shares were flat even as markets in Japan and Australia climbed, bolstered by Tuesday's gains on Wall Street and rising oil prices.