Stocks on Wall Street and in Europe advanced on better-than-expected results from companies including Intel.

Intel, which late yesterday said revenue might top analysts' estimates in the second quarter, boosted the market as did United Technologies, which raised its full-year profit forecast.

In early afternoon trading on Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 1.46 per cent, the Standard & Poor's 500 Index gained 1.27 per cent and the Nasdaq Composite Index rose 1.92 per cent.

"It isn't just the good reports, but also the encouraging comments about how things look for the remainder of the year," Mark Luschini, chief investment strategist at Janney Montgomery Scott in Philadelphia, told Reuters.

"This is a testament to the strength of earnings we can expect to come out from here, and a marked contrast to what we've seen so far of results that weren't so disproportionately good," said Luschini.

Apple In is scheduled to report after the market's close.

Economic indicators helped sentiment, too. Sales of previously owned US homes rose more than expected in March, a trade group said.

"This is obviously an encouraging number, and it suggests that we're beginning to see the sputtering of the uptrend in the housing cycle," Richard Bernstein, chief executive officer of Richard Bernstein Capital Management in New York, told Reuters.

In Europe, the Stoxx 600 Index rose 1.7 per cent, propelled by better-than-expected sales at L'Oreal SA, the No.1 cosmetic maker.

The euro rose 1.2 per cent versus the US dollar to US$1.4502, and jumped 1.1 per cent to 119.70 yen.

In Spain, the Treasury sold 3.4 billion euros of bonds maturing in 2021 and 2024, near the top end of its target range. Demand was solid, outstripping what was on offer by 2.1 times.

"All in all, relatively reassuring results providing no indication Spain's decoupling from the periphery is under immediate threat," Richard McGuire, a rate strategist at Rabobank, told Reuters. "That said, the risk of contagion has certainly not been taken off the table."

Economists agree. A Reuters poll showed an overwhelming majority of economists believe Greece will eventually have to restructure its 325 billion euro debt mountain, although most said it would not happen for at least a year.

Commodities had a strong day, too.

Spot gold was bid at US$1,501.10 an ounce at 1403 GMT, against US$1,493.90 late in New York on Tuesday. Earlier, it rose as high as US$1,505.40 an ounce.

US gold futures for June delivery rose US$6.70 an ounce to US$1,501.80.

Silver advanced to a 31-year high of US$44.79 an ounce, up from yesterday's US$43.89.

Oil climbed, too, as US crude oil inventories slid for the first time in seven weeks.

US crude inventories dropped 2.32 million barrels last week, bucking average analyst forecasts in a Reuters poll for a 1.1 million barrel increase.

ICE Brent crude for June delivery rose US$2.74 to US$124.07 a barrel by 12:10 1610 GMT.U.S.

June crude was last up US$3.25 to US$111.53.