Wall Street climbed, bolstered by better-than-expected corporate earnings such as from American Express.

In 2.23pm trading in New York, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rallied 1 per cent, while the Nasdaq Composite Index also climbed 1 per cent. In 2.08pm trading, the Standard & Poor's 500 Index gained 0.9 per cent.

US Treasuries, meanwhile, declined, pushing yields on the benchmark 10-year note two basis points higher to 2.23 per cent.

Gains in shares of American Express and those of Goldman Sachs, recently up 5.5 per cent and 1.8 per cent respectively, led the Dow higher.

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American Express reported a smaller-than-expected decline in quarterly profit and revenue. "Our first quarter performance marks a good start to the year with momentum in the consumer and commercial businesses in the US and in key markets internationally," Kenneth Chenault, chief executive officer, said in a statement.

"The results reflect many of the investments we've been making to grow the business, plus continued progress in reducing operating expenses.

Of the 82 companies in the S&P 500 that have reported earnings through Thursday afternoon, about 75 per cent have topped expectations, above the 71 per cent average for the past four quarters, Reuters reported.

"As we see a steady stream of earnings, on balance the season has been better and that's helping the market today," Art Hogan, chief market strategist at Wunderlich Securities in New York, told Reuters.

Bucking the trend were shares of Travelers and those of Verizon, recently down 1.5 per cent and 0.9 per cent respectively, for the largest percentage drops in afternoon trading in the Dow.

Shares of Verizon fell after the company posted its first quarterly decline of subscribers. Investors are closely monitoring pending elections in France and geopolitical tensions.

Our first quarter performance marks a good start to the year with momentum in the consumer and commercial businesses in the US and in key markets internationally.

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"This political uncertainty's not going away for a while," Ben Kumar, a London-based investment manager at Seven Investment Management, told

Bloomberg

. "Markets are trying to get their heads around whether that will actually affect company earnings."

Europe's Stoxx 600 Index finished the session with a 0.2 per cent increase from the previous close. The UK's FTSE 100 Index added 0.1 per cent, as did Germany's DAX Index, while France's CAC40 Index advanced 1.5 per cent.

Recent polls showed increased support for French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron ahead of the first round of voting on Sunday.

The CAC 40 is "moving higher on the belief that Emmanuel Macron will make it into the final vote this weekend, and as such win the French Presidency in a run off with one or the other of Marine Le Pen or Jean-Luc Melenchon, neither of whom are viewed as particularly market friendly," Michael Hewson, an analyst at CMC Markets in London, wrote in a note, Bloomberg reported.