European Commission President Jose-Manuel Barroso presented a plan to strengthen weak European banks and lower Greece's debt burden. It's being seen as the strongest effort yet to address a debt crisis that threatens to push the global economy into another recession.
The plan comes a day after Slovakia rejected a bill to expand the powers of Europe's financial rescue program. That temporarily complicated efforts to deal with the debt problems. An opposition party leader said a deal has been reached to approve the expanded rescue fund in a vote this week.
The Dow rose 56 points, or 0.5 percent, to 11,474 at 10 a.m. JPMorgan Chase rose 2.7 percent, the most of the 30 companies that make up the index. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. had the second-biggest gain, 2.6 percent. The giant retailer is holding its annual meeting with analysts, where it is expected to discuss plans to reverse a sales slump at its namesake U.S. stores.
The Standard & Poor's 500 rose 11, or 0.9 percent, to 1,207. Banks and financial stocks had the biggest gains. Those companies would have the most to lose if Greece defaults on its debt. A default would cause the value of Greek bonds held by banks in the U.S. and Europe to plunge in value, weakening their balance sheets and making it harder for them to lend.
The Nasdaq composite index rose 29, or 1.1 percent, to 2,611.
Liz Claiborne Inc. rose 31.2 percent after the company said it is selling its namesake brand and several others in an attempt to reverse years of losses. Liz Claiborne hasn't had an annual profit since 2006.
U.S. companies have begun to release their third-quarter earnings reports, and so far the results have been mixed. PepsiCo Inc. rose 2.4 percent after the company said its income rose because of stronger sales of snacks and beverages, especially overseas.
Alcoa Inc. dropped 5 percent, the biggest decline in the Dow, after the aluminum maker reported earnings that were weaker than analysts expected. A 12 percent drop in aluminum prices in the July-September period dragged down its results.