Thursday, January 19, 2012

Wall Street edges higher on bank earnsings

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Stocks rose early Thursday, putting the S&P on track for its third straight advance after Bank of America and Morgan Stanley reported earnings and as strong demand at European bond auctions eased euro zone debt concerns.

Bank of America Corp climbed 5.2 percent to $7.14 after it reported a fourth-quarter profit, reversing a year-earlier loss, boosted by one-time items and lower expenses for bad loans.

Fellow financial Morgan Stanley jumped 6.2 percent to $18.45 after the Wall Street bank posted a quarterly loss but still managed to top analysts' expectations.

Financial shares have rallied since the start of the year. The S&P financial index <.GSPF> is up more than 7 percent for 2012, helping to push the benchmark S&P 500 index up 4 percent. The index was up 0.6 percent in early trading.

In a sign that investor nervousness over the euro zone's debt crisis was easing, Spain and France both drew strong demand at government debt auctions.

"It's a combination of no horror stories out of Europe and it is earnings season. We are up and down with the different earnings releases, of course, but in general they are expected to be good," said Frank Lesh, a futures analyst and broker at FuturePath Trading LLC in Chicago.

"Overall, earnings are expected to be positive and a positive influence for the market." Learn More...

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