NEW YORK -- The Dow and S&P 500 ended higher Tuesday, helped by energy stocks and March-quarter earnings reports that topped modest expectations following worries about a strong dollar.
Shares of Exxon Mobil, Chevron and other energy companies followed crude higher after a forecast that U.S. shale oil output in May would record its first monthly decline in more than four years. The S&P 500 energy index jumped 1.77 percent.
Norfolk Southern (NSC) dropped 4.18 percent to $100.49 a day after it forecast a surprise drop in its first-quarter earnings and revenue.
A strong dollar, cheap oil and poor weather in the eastern United States in recent months have investors bracing for a difficult March-quarter earnings season.
%VIRTUAL-pullquote-This may be one of most hated earnings seasons I remember.%First-quarter profits for S&P 500 companies are seen falling 2.9 percent, according to Thomson Reuters (TRI) data. On Jan. 1, analysts had been looking for growth of 5.3 percent.
Those lowered expectations mean that companies can now more easily impress investors, said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at Wunderlich Securities in New York.
"This may be one of most hated earnings seasons I remember," Hogan said. "We've taken those three negative headwinds and plowed them as far as we can into the worst-case scenario."
The Dow Jones industrial average (^DJI) rose 59.66 points, or 0.33 percent, to end at 18,036.7. The Standard & Poor's 500 index (^GSPC) 500 gained 3.41 points, or 0.16 percent, to 2,095.84 and the Nasdaq composite (^IXIC) dropped 10.96 points, or 0.22 percent, to 4,977.29, with Apple down 0.43 percent.
Chevron (CVX) shares gained 2.2 percent and Exxon (XOM) rose 1.5 percent.
Nokia Oyj is in talks to buy Alcatel-Lucent, a deal that would combine the telecommunications industry's two weakest players.
U.S. shares of Nokia (NOK) fell 4.09 percent to $7.96 while Alcatel (ALU) rose 13.33 percent to $4.93.
Companies expected to report this week include GE (GE), Philip Morris International (PM) and Bank of America (BAC).
The dollar was down 0.7 percent against a basket of major currencies, leaving it with a gain of nearly 10 percent so far in 2015. A stronger dollar tends to hurt profits for U.S. multinationals.
Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by 1,910 to 1,120, for a 1.71-to-1 ratio on the upside; on the Nasdaq, 1,426 issues fell, and 1,289 advanced for a 1.11-to-1 ratio favoring decliners.
The benchmark S&P 500 posted 5 new 52-week highs and 1 new low; the Nasdaq composite was recording 74 new highs and 32 new lows.
About 5.8 billion shares changed hands on U.S. exchanges, below the 6.1 billion daily average for the month to date, according to BATS Global Market
What to watch Wednesday:
The Federal Reserve Bank of New York releases its survey of manufacturing conditions in New York state at 8:30 a.m. Eastern time.
The Federal Reserve releases industrial production for March at 9:15 a.m.
The National Association of Home Builders releases housing market index for April at 10 a.m.
The Federal Reserve releases its Beige Book survey of regional economic conditions at 2 p.m.
The Treasury Department releases international money flows data for February at 4 p.m.
These selected companies are scheduled to release quarterly financial results:
6 Actions to Take Today to Take Control of Your Finances
Market Wrap: Stocks End Higher After Bounce in Oil Prices
Too many members of Gen Y are drowning in student loan debt. But it doesn't need to be this way. If you feel overwhelmed by student loans, it's time to make a plan and start tackling your debt once and for all.
Several income-based repayment programs are available to those with federal student loan debt. You also might be eligible to have your student loans forgiven if you're in certain professions or want to volunteer with select organizations.
Don't let student loan debt hold you back from making major financial decisions such as marriage, home ownership, or starting a family. Prioritize your goals, create an action plan and make debt a thing of the past.
It's just that simple. If you want to take control of your finances, you need ensure your expenses are lower than your income. That will keep you out of debt, but it may leave you living paycheck to paycheck with nothing left over at the end of each month.
If you want to reach real financial success, you need to ensure you prioritize saving over spending. Get into the savings habit sooner rather than later, and you'll reach your goals faster and find it easier to guard against lifestyle inflation.
Saving money is only one side of the equation. The other important factor? Increasing your income and earning more money.
People usually start by looking for ways to save more money. After all, it's easier to spend 30 minutes looking at your budget to see what expenses you could eliminate or what costs you could cut back on than it is to spend an extra five hours per day working to earn more money.
But making more money is a powerful tool when it comes to getting your financial situation under control and working toward success. And it is in your power to increase your income!
Start by negotiating for a higher salary if you look for a new job. Or ask for what you're worth (after you've earned it by providing value and working hard) at your current job. You can also look into part-time work, freelancing on the side, or even starting your own side business.
You should always make sure your spending aligns with your values. Take a moment to identify what means the most to you in life or what your biggest life goals are, and compare your spending against that list. By doing this, you'll get more out of your money, which will lead to greater happiness.
Many members of Gen Y are intimidated by the market given what happened in 2008, but it's impossible to grow wealth to its highest potential if you avoid investing. If you get anxiety hearing someone say "stock market," familiarize yourself with the basics of investing. Education is a powerful tool.
Start off small by participating in an employer-sponsored retirement plan, such as a 401(k), if one is available to you. If your employer matches a percentage of your contributions, that means you're getting free money in return for saving money. The sooner you start investing, the more time your contributions have to grow, which leads to greater wealth down the line.
Your ability to work and earn money is your most important asset. Millennials are guilty of foregoing insurance because they think it's better to save money than have to pay premiums, but none of us are invincible.
If you're married or have kids, you have loved ones depending on you. Having life insurance and an estate plan in place protects your family in case the worst happens.
There's no reason to remain uneducated about your financial situation. Knowledge is power, and learning how to put your money to work increases the odds of you achieving financial success. You can start working on your situation right now to take control of your finances.