Equities on Wall Street and in Europe rose overnight as investors found value in beaten-down stocks including energy shares such as Chevron and Nabors Industries.

Shares of Chevron gained 2.6 per cent, while those of Nabors soared 6.6 per cent.

Oil stemmed its slide, at least for now. West Texas Intermediate for January delivery rose 1.5 per cent to US$56.74 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, after falling as low as US$53.60 earlier in the session.

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In afternoon trading in New York, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.6 per cent, the Standard & Poor's 500 Index added 0.7 per cent, while the Nasdaq Composite Index gained 0.3 per cent.

"There were many, many stocks, especially in the energy sector that were just trading at absolutely ridiculous prices to their fair market valuation," Paul Mendelsohn, chief investment strategist at Windham Financial Services in Charlotte, Vermont, told Reuters. "That is really what started the rally, when investors really started to come into the energy stocks."

Gains in shares of Boeing and those of 3M, last up 2.3 per cent and 2.2 per cent respectively, led the Dow higher.

Shares of Boeing rose after the company increased its buyback program to US$12 billion and its dividend by 25 per cent to 91 US cents per share.

"Strong operating performance across our business continues to generate significant cash flow and financial strength for Boeing," Chief Executive Jim McNerney said in a statement.

"That strength, coupled with the solid growth outlook for commercial aviation and Boeing's unmatched product and services portfolio, provides us with the foundation to continue our balanced cash deployment strategy, investing in our core programs while increasing shareholder value."

Meanwhile, Federal Open Market Committee policy makers began their two-day meeting in Washington, which will be followed by a statement, fresh forecasts and a press conference by Fed Chair Janet Yellen on Wednesday.

In Europe, the Stoxx 600 Index finished the session with a 1.7 per cent advance from the previous close. Earlier in the session, the index had dropped as much as 1.3 per cent, according to Bloomberg News.

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France's CAC 40 Index rose 2.2 per cent, the UK's FTSE 100 Index climbed 2.4 per cent, while Germany's DAX Index rallied 2.5 per cent.

See video - Russians worry as ruble plunges:

The Russian ruble plunged as much as 19 per cent to a record low, a day after the Bank of Russia unexpectedly boosted its key interest rate to 17 per cent from 10.5 per cent. The ruble plummeted beyond 80 per US dollar.

"It's a panic," Greg Anderson, Bank of Montreal's global head of foreign-exchange strategy in New York, told Bloomberg News.

Shares in Europe were lifted late in the session after US Secretary of State John Kerry said there were signs emerging that Russia had in recent days made "constructive moves" to ease the conflict in Ukraine.