U.S. equity markets were higher Wednesday afternoon as concerns about Europe eased and a Fed gauge on the economy showed modest growth.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed up 0.7% at 12,805.39, the S&P 500 was up 0.74% at 1,368.71 and the Nasdaq was 0.84% higher at 3,016.46.
The U.S. economy continued to expand at a modest-to-moderate pace from mid-February through to the end of March, though rising gas prices were causing some concerns for consumer spending and transportation costs, the Federal Reserve said.
In corporate news, the U.S. Department of Justice has reportedly brought a lawsuit against Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and several publishing companies over a scheme to fix e-book prices.
Apple reached an agreement with five publishers to release books on its iBookstore in 2010, when the iPad was released.
Shares of Nokia (NYSE:NOK) tumbled more than 14% Wednesday after the company lowered its first-quarter outlook, citing "competitive industry dynamics" and gross margin declines in its smart devices unit.
Titan Machinery (NASDAQ:TITN), an agriculture and construction equipment retailer, said fiscal fourth-quarter sales soared 64.9 percent amid a sharp rise in its construction segment.
Alcoa (NYSE:AA) posted a bright start to U.S. earnings season with other big names such as Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) and JPMorgan (NYSE:JPM) due to post earnings before the end of the week.
In economic news, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that U.S. import prices advanced 1.3% in March, while exports rose 0.8%.
The Treasury Department said for the first six months of fiscal 2012, the government spent $778.99 billion more than it collected. That compares to a $829.42 billion deficit for the first half of the prior year.
For March alone, a deficit of $198.16 billion was recorded, about $10 billion more than the same month last year
In NYMEX futures trading, crude for May delivery rose $2.05, or 2%, to $103.06 a barrel as The Energy Information Administration said crude supplies rose by 2.8 million barrels for the week ended April 6.
That compares to expectations of a rise of 1.8 million barrels in the week, and comes after two weeks of huge increases.
Gold futures for June delivery settled at $1,660.30 an ounce.
European markets closed higher with the FTSE 100 gaining 0.7%, the DAX climbing 1% and the CAC 40 rising 0.6%.