U.S. stocks head higher, easing a January slump _lowres

Associated Press photo by RICHARD DREW -- Trader Richard Newman works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. Stock markets rose Wednesday, with financial and technology companies having some of the biggest gains.

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks are moving higher in midday trading, helping the market erase a January slump.

Bank of America led other banking stocks higher after reporting that loans on its balance sheet continued to improve in the fourth quarter. Technology stocks also rose. Apple and Microsoft gained 2 percent.

The Dow Jones industrial average climbed 120 points, or 0.7 percent, to 16,494 in midday trading Wednesday.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose nine points, or 0.5 percent, to 1,848, a fraction of a point below its record high close on Dec. 31. The gain nearly wiped out the S&P 500’s loss for the year.

The Nasdaq rose 26 points, or 0.6 percent, to 4,209.

Bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 2.90 percent.