Corporate earnings season buoyed Wall Street and helped snap a three-day losing streak for the S&P 500 index.
Numbers from Ford and pharmaceutical company Pfizer were among the standout earnings reports.
Ford claims 2013 was “one of the company’s best years ever” thanks to a strong performance in the US and Asia.
The company made $US7.2 billion, up from $US1.5 billion in the previous year.
Also lifting the mood among investors was official data showing home prices in 20 US cities rose by the most in almost eight years in November, and the Conference Board’s index of consumer confidence increased.
However, an unexpected drop in durable goods orders in December and Apple’s disappointing iPhone sales kept investors on edge.
By the close of trade, the Dow Jones Industrial Average added 91 points or 0.6 per cent to 15,929.
The broader S&P 500 index reversed a three-day losing streak with a gain of 0.6 per cent to 1,792.
The Nasdaq underperformed the broader market, gaining 0.4 per cent to 4,098 – it was pressured by Apple shares which closed down 8 per cent.
Today’s news came ahead of the start of a two-day policy meeting of the US Federal Reserve, one which investors will closely watch to see if another reduction in stimulus is announced.
Across the Atlantic, markets also reversed recent losses.
London’s FTSE 100 index edged up from five-week lows by 0.3 per cent to 6,572.
Germany’s DAX added 0.6 per cent and France’s CAC jumped 1 per cent.
At 8:10am (AEDT) in Australia, the SPI futures contract was pointing to a flat start to local trade with a gain of just 1 point.
The Australian dollar was maintaining its position against the greenback, buying 87.74 US cents; it was worth $1.0603 in New Zealand, 64.27 euro cents and 52.91 British pence.
On commodity markets, spot gold prices were weaker at $US1,253.99 an ounce.
West Texas crude oil was stronger at $US97.30 a barrel.