Tech, Industrials Lead Wall Street Higher

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The markets shook off morning losses and turned higher, led by a strong performance among technology and industrial stocks.

Today's Markets

As of 3:20 p.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average jumped 107 points, or 0.83%, to 12913, the S&P 500 gained 9.3 points, or 0.67%, to 1373 and the Nasdaq Composite jumped 29.8 points, or 1%, to 2940.

Intel (NASDSAQ:INTC) was the best-performing blue chip, rising despite warning of the potential of slowing growth ahead. Other big-name tech companies including Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ), Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) and Cisco (NASDAQ:CSCO) posted strong gains as well. Industrial heavyweights United Technologies (NYSE:UTX) and Boeing (NYSE:BA) also rose solidly.

The global economy and earnings have once again come into the spotlight as troubles in the eurozone have been put on the back burner for the moment.

Bernanke gave his report on monetary policy to the Senate Banking Committee on Tuesday and the House Financial Services Committee on Wednesday. In his remarks, Bernanke gave a subdued economic outlook, and said the central bank stands ready to take more action if necessary. The Fed also released its Beige Book report on the day.

The economy grew at a “modest to moderate pace” across U.S. districts in June and early July, the report that encompasses the central bank's 12 districts said. Retail sales ticked up slightly and manufacturing continued expanding slowly. Meanwhile, developments in the housing market were seen as “largely positive.”

On the data front, the rate at which builders broke ground on new homes jumped to the highest level since October 2008, according to a report by the Commerce Department. Housing starts jumped 6.9% in June from May to a 760,000-unit rate, topping estimates of a 765,000-unit rate. However, permits to build new homes, a more forward-looking indicator, fell 3.7% to a 755,000-unit rate, coming in under the 765,000-unit rate expected. The housing market has been slow to recover as a result of tight lending conditions, a high supply of homes and generally tepid demand.

Many big-name companies are reporting second-quarter earnings.

Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) posted second-quarter earnings of 19 cents a share, better than the 14 cents analysts forecast. The blue-chip bank’s revenue, net of interest expense, came in at $22.2 billion, less than the $22.9 billion analysts expected. Intel revealed earnings that were in line with expectations after the close of trading on Tuesday, but the chipmaker lowered its full-year revenue view and warned for slowing growth in the third quarter.

Results from IBM (NYSE:IBM) and American Express (NYSE:AXP) are due after the closing bell.

Oil futures advanced for the sixth day in a row. The contract traded in New York rose 65 cents, or 0.73%, to $89.87 a barrel. Wholesale New York Harbor gasoline jumped 1.4% to $2.883 a gallon.

In metals, gold slumped $18.70, or 1.2%, to $1,571 a troy ounce.

Foreign Markets

The Euro Stoxx 50 rose 1.5% to 2285, the English FTSE 100 gained 1% to 5686 and the German DAX rallied 1.6% to 6684.

In Asia, the Japanese Nikkei 225 fell 0.32% to 8727 and the Chinese Hang Seng sold off by 1.1% to 19240.