U.S. stocks regain ground after pullback; oil crosses $60

Stocks rose moderately in early trading Friday after Thursday's pullback left fertile ground for bargain hunters. The rise follows a week of mostly directionless trading in which Wall Street has searched for a catalyst to resume its advance of the past few months.

Investors were keeping an eye on a handful of earnings reports as well as crude oil, which crossed the $60 per barrel mark for the first time this year early Friday. Crude prices flirted with that psychological barrier for three straight days this week only to retreat.

Wall Street appeared to welcome comments from St. Louis Federal Reserve President William Poole, who offered a bright assessment of the U.S. economy and said the housing sector was by some measures showing signs of stabilizing. Concerns about housing contributed to Thursday's drop.

Earnings reports continued, with reports from Gateway Inc., MasterCard International Inc. and Weyerhaeuser Co. Earnings results have in recent weeks drawn mixed reviews from Wall Street, which is concerned about how well profits will hold up in the first quarter. Strong showings, such as that from Cisco Systems Inc. earlier this week, have temporarily leavened stocks, but failed to add to momentum, reports AP.

In the first hour of trading, the Dow Jones industrial average was up 33.17, or 0.26 percent, at 12,670.80.

Broader stock indicators were higher. The Standard & Poor's 500 index was up 4.00, or 0.28 percent, at 1,452.31, and the Nasdaq composite index was up 7.77, or 0.31 percent, at 2,496.44.

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