Stock indexes power higher as corporate earnings impress investors; 3M, Caterpillar lead Dow

NEW YORK, N.Y. – Stocks are rising sharply in afternoon trading, driven by big profit gains from U.S. companies.

Caterpillar and 3M led the gains among industrial stocks, which rose significantly more than the rest of the market. Caterpillar rose 5 per cent and 3M rose 6 per cent after each company reported earnings that impressed investors.

The Dow Jones industrial average shot up as much as 306 points in afternoon trading Thursday. As of 2:36 p.m. it was up 295 points, or 1.8 per cent, at 16,758.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index gained 33 points, or 1.7 per cent, to 1,960. The Nasdaq composite rose 87 points, or 2 per cent, to 4,469.