Earnings reports boost stocks

NEW YORK – Solid earnings from a broad swath of U.S. companies pushed the stock market higher on Tuesday.

Ameriprise Financial, a wealth management company, surged after posting earnings that exceeded Wall Street’s expectations. The company also said it would buy back an additional $2.5 billion of its own stock and raise its dividend. Cummins, a maker of large diesel engines, jumped after the company said a surge in North American sales sent its earnings higher.

Just over half the companies in the Standard & Poor’s 500 index have now released their earnings for the first quarter and, with the occasional exception, the reports have contained enough good news to drive stock prices higher. The S&P 500 has gained 2.1 percent since April 14, and the index is approaching its all-time high following a pullback at the start of the month prompted by a sell-off in formerly highflying Internet and biotechnology stocks.

“Corporate earnings are pretty good,” said Randy Frederick, managing director of trading and derivatives at the Schwab Center for Financial Research.

“Once the market got back on its feet after that dip that we had, it seems to be poised to hit a new record high very soon.”

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 8.90 points, or 0.5 percent, to 1,878.33. The index is 12 points below its record high of 1,890.89 set April 2.

The Dow Jones industrial average climbed 86.63 points, or 0.5 percent, to 16,535.37.

The Nasdaq composite gained 29.14 points, or 0.7 percent, to 4,103.54.

Analysts currently expect earnings for S&P 500 companies to grow by 1.4 percent in the first quarter, according to data from S&P Capital IQ. Although that is lower than the 5.2 percent earnings growth recorded in the same period a year ago, expectations for the period were low after an unusually harsh winter.