Stocks Higher on Earnings

Stocks Higher on Earnings

NEW YORK (AP) -- U.S. stocks were moving steadily higher in midday trading Tuesday, as investors worked through the first batch of earnings from the first quarter of the year. News reports that Saudi Arabia and Russia had agreed on oil production cuts helped boost oil prices, which in turn helped lift energy companies.

KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial average was up 138 points, or 0.8 percent, to 17,695 as of 12:25 p.m. Eastern. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 14 points, or 0.7 percent, to 2,056 and the Nasdaq composite rose 21 points, or 0.4 percent, to 4,854.

EARNINGS: Earnings season got underway on a weak note late Monday as Alcoa reported a 15 percent decline in revenue. Alcoa also had a huge drop in first-quarter profit as aluminum prices fell. Alcoa's stock fell 42 cents, or 4 percent, to $9.31.

Later this week big U.S. banks will start releasing results, including JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup and Wells Fargo.

Expectations for earnings are low this quarter. Analysts surveyed by FactSet expect corporate profits to be down 9.1 percent from a year ago, hurt primarily by the steep drop in oil prices and other commodities. The entire energy sector is expected to report a loss this quarter, according to FactSet.

"Earnings will paint an important picture over the next few weeks, but the more important story is the continued improvement in the macroeconomic environment here in the U.S. and globally," said Ryan Larson, head of U.S. equity trading at RBC Global Asset Management in Chicago.

OIL IN FOCUS TOO: Oil prices moved sharply higher after Russian officials told Interfax, the Russian news agency, that they planned to reach a deal with Saudi Arabia to cut oil production. OPEC ministers meet this Sunday in Doha, Qatar.

Benchmark U.S. crude oil was up $1.26, or 3 percent, at $41.62 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, the international standard, rose $1.51 to $44.34 a barrel in London.

Energy stocks, which have been beaten down in recent months, followed the price of crude oil higher. The energy component of the S&P 500 jumped almost 3 percent.

BONDS AND CURRENCIES: U.S. government bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 1.78 percent from 1.73 percent late Monday. The euro fell to $1.1384 from $1.1412 while the dollar rose to 108.65 yen from 107.94 yen.