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Banks lead U.S. stocks to slight gains amid mixed earnings

Trader Steven Kaplan works on the floor of

Trader Steven Kaplan works on the floor of the NYSE on Friday. Photo Credit: AP / Richard Drew

Stocks closed slightly higher on Wall Street Tuesday, erasing the market's modest losses from a day earlier.

The gains, which followed a rally in overseas stock indexes, came as investors sized up the latest batch of company earnings reports.

Financial stocks led the way higher as bond yields rose, which drives interest rates higher, enabling banks to make more money on loans. BlackRock and Progressive led the sector after each company reported solid quarterly results.

Qualcomm powered technology sector stocks higher, notching its best day in 20 years, on news the chipmaker and Apple settled their bitter legal dispute.

Investors are looking to the latest wave of corporate earnings reports over the next few weeks for clues about the health of the global economy and the prospects for company profits this year.

Analysts expect the first-quarter results for S&P 500 companies overall to be the weakest in nearly three years.

"The markets are prepared for this year-over-year decline that everyone is expecting in earnings," said Erik Davidson, chief investment officer at Wells Fargo Private Bank. "Unless we have some significant misses, we should be doing OK."

The S&P 500 rose 0.1 percent, to 2,907.06. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 67.89 points, or 0.3 percent, to 26,452.66. The Nasdaq composite added 0.3 percent, to 8,000.23. The index had not closed above 8,000 points since October.

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