NEW YORK – U.S. stocks rose Wednesday as gains in network equipment maker Cisco Systems Inc. (CSCO) and other tech shares helped drive the Nasdaq Composite index up more than 1 percent in a rebound from Tuesday's sharp losses.
Strong earnings from companies like software maker Autodesk Inc. and clothing retailer American Eagle Outfitters Inc. also improved sentiment about profits and gave investors another reason to buy stocks.
Cisco jumped 4.1 percent to $21.06 and pushed other tech shares higher. The Philadelphia Semiconductor Index shot up 4.3 percent.
"It's the start of a new month, and I definitely think there's money around looking to be put to work in stocks," said Todd Clark, director of stock trading at Nollenberger Capital Partners in San Francisco.
The Nasdaq Composite Index was up 33.25 points, or 1.46 percent, at 2,314.64. The Dow Jones industrial average was up 60.12 points, or 0.55 percent, at 11,053.53. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index was up 10.58 points, or 0.83 percent, at 1,291.24.
Energy companies' shares pumped higher as U.S. crude for April delivery rose almost 1 percent, or 56 cents, to settle at $61.97 a barrel after government inventory data indicated strong gasoline demand. Oil prices also were driven higher after Nigerian militants made a fresh threat to attack a new oil industry target, and following news that Jordan had foiled a suicide bombing plot by militants including Saudis, Libyans and Iraqis against a key civilian target.
Shares of Exxon Mobil Corp., the world's largest publicly traded oil company, rose 1.6 percent, or 97 cents, to $60.34 on the New York Stock Exchange. It ranked among the top positive influences on both the S&P 500 and the Dow industrials.
Integrated oil and gas companies, as well as communications equipment makers, were among the top-performing sectors in the S&P 500.
On the earnings front, design software maker Autodesk reported stronger-than-expected profit and lifted its financial forecast for 2007. Autodesk's stock soared 10.7 percent, or $4.03, to $41.68 and was among the Nasdaq's leading net gainers.
Medco Health Solutions Inc., a large U.S. manager of pharmacy benefits, reported a stronger-than-expected gain of 33 percent in quarterly profit. Medco shares rose 6.4 percent, or $3.56, to $59.28 on the NYSE.
Wednesday's gains helped the stock market recover some ground from a hard fall on Tuesday, driven by a steep drop in the shares of Web search company Google Inc.
Google was up 0.6 percent, or $2.18, at $364.80 on Wednesday following Tuesday's sell-off, when it fell as much as 13 percent. At Tuesday's close, Google (GOOG) was down 7 percent.
"Google's shock yesterday has kind of worn off," said Clark of Nollenberger Capital.
Youth-oriented retailer American Eagle's stock surged 13.5 percent, or $3.44, to $28.91 on the Nasdaq.
Joy Global Inc., which makes heavy equipment for the mining industry, reported higher earnings that beat analysts' estimates. Its stock shot up almost 14.4 percent, or $7.42, to $58.98 on Nasdaq.
"Earnings remain fairly strong, and stocks are still inexpensive when compared with other asset classes,"
said Rick Campagna, a portfolio manager at Provident Investment Council in Pasadena, California.
General Motors Corp.'s shares fell 2 percent, or 41 cents, to $19.90 on the NYSE. The automaker's February retail sales rose 1 percent, while fleet sales fell 11 percent, GM said Wednesday.
Trading was active on the NYSE, with about 1.64 billion shares trading hands, above last year's average of 1.62 billion. On Nasdaq, 2.24 billion shares were traded, above last year's 1.80 billion average.
On the NYSE, about 5 stocks rose for every two that fell, while on Nasdaq, advancing stocks beat declining ones by a ratio of about 7 to 3.