AT&T and 3M led the Dow higher after posting better-than-expected profits before the market opened. Hershey also beat expectations. The chocolate maker's stock rose the most of any in the Standard & Poor's 500 index.
Apple, the biggest company by market value, will report its quarterly earnings after the close. Its stock fell sharply, limiting gains for the tech-heavy Nasdaq composite index.
The gains for blue chips were broad. Only three of the 30 stocks in the Dow fell. One was Wal-Mart Stores, still reeling after reports over the weekend that top company officials knew about widespread bribery of foreign officials.
European stocks rose modestly after one of their worst days in months. The selling followed fears that deficit-cutting agreements by some nations are close to unraveling.
On Tuesday, bond investors demanded much higher interest rates from Spain and Italy when they auctioned new debt, signaling more pain ahead for those debt-strapped countries.
However interest rates on Spanish bonds already in circulation declined as Monday's panicked atmosphere dissipated. France's CAC-40 index rose 2 percent. Other major European benchmark indexes had smaller bounces. The euro rose to $1.3206 from $1.3117 early Monday.
The Dow rose 115 points to 13,042 as of 11:30 a.m. EDT. In addition to AT&T and 3M, four other stocks in the Dow rose by more than 1.5 percent: Verizon, Pfizer, GE and IBM. IBM said it is raising its quarterly dividend and plans to repurchase $7 billion more of its stock.
The S&P 500 rose eight points to 1,374. The Nasdaq composite average rose two to 2,972.
The Nasdaq was dragged lower by Apple, which fell 2 percent.
As stocks rose, traders sold ultra-safe Treasurys. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 1.96 percent from 1.94 percent late Monday.
Among the other U.S. companies making big moves on earnings news:
— Baker Hughes, an oilfield service contractor, leapt 7 percent after its profit exceeded expectations because of strong drilling activity in Africa.
— Regions Financial surged 5 percent after the company more than doubled its first-quarter profit by setting aside less money for loan losses.
— Coach fell 3 percent after the maker of high-end leather goods said results in U.S. department stores were weak, despite stronger sales in China.
— Netflix plunged 14 percent after saying it is adding new subscribers slowly in the second quarter. Investors are nervous about stronger competition from video-streaming rivals such as Amazon.com and Comcast.
A wave of weak U.S. economic data failed to douse the rally for stocks. Sales of new homes fell by 7 percent last month, the biggest decline in a year, the government said after markets opened. Home prices in most major U.S. cities fell in February for a sixth straight month.
Americans' confidence in the economy held steady despite rising gas prices and falling home values, according to the Conference Board, a private research group.
About three stocks rose for every one that fell on the New York Stock Exchange.