Bank stocks were broadly higher, led by UBS and Citigroup . The SPDR Financial ETF , which tracks the industry's biggest names, reflected the group's gains. The KBW Bank Index was up more than 4 percent with two hours left in trading.
Credit card leader Capital One Financial saw its shares surge after it said defaults rose in June but less than expected, and competitor American Express was the Dow industrials' top gainer after it also predicted lower default rates.
All but one of the Dow industrial components were in positive territory, with McDonald's being the only negative performer.
Elsewhere in earnings, media conglomerate Gannett saw its shares surge after the company beat expectations with profit of 46 cents per share. Abbott Labs saw its shares fall after the company met analyst estimates but lowered its forecast.
Energy prices rose following the Energy Information Administration's key petroleum status report that showed a larger than expected drawdown in supplies. US light, sweet crude rose more than $1 a barrel.
Boeing shares gained after the company reported that it will be cutting 1,000 jobs in its defense division because of Pentagon budget cuts. Also in airlines, American parent AMR posted a $390 million loss that was less than estimates, sending shares higher.
In other corporate news, Janus Capital shares slid a day after the mutual fund company abruptly replaced CEO Gary Black after profit dropped 76 percent.
Market breadth was strongly positive, with gainers beating losers 9 to 1 though volume was light.