Higher oil prices give U.S. stocks a lift

NEW YORK - U.S. stocks rose broadly in the first half-hour of trading Tuesday on higher oil prices and signs that the new Greek government won't press for a write-off of its bailout loans. European stocks were sharply higher, too.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 262 points, or 1.5 percent, to 17,563 at 2:02 p..m. ET. The Standard & Poor's 500 index climbed 25 points, or 0 1.2 percent, to 2,046. The Nasdaq composite rose 34 points to 4,680.

Energy stocks followed the price of oil higher, rising 2.4 percent, the biggest gain among the 10 industry sectors in the S&P 500. U.S. benchmark crude oil gained $1.01 to $50.62 a barrel in New York. It's the fourth day of gains for oil.

Germany's DAX rose 0.9 percent while the CAC-40 in France was up 1.1 percent. Britain's FTSE 100 rose 1.1 percent. In Athens, the main stock market index spiked 11 percent.

Greece's finance minister said the new radical left government was willing to accept alternative strategies to making his country's debt load more bearable. The Financial Times reported that Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis had backed off the idea of a flat debt write-off in a meeting in London on Monday. Instead, he suggested replacing old debt with new bonds that would be repaid only if Greece's economy grows. He also suggested using interest-only bonds.

Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets, said Greece's proposals have "soothed fears that the new Greek government was intent on provoking a confrontation with its European partners, with a view to exiting the euro." At the very least, Hewson said investors are pleased that a new approach is being tried "given how much of a disaster the current bailout program has been."

Shares of the office supply store chain Staples jumped $1.85, or nearly 11 percent, to $19.01 following a report in the Wall Street Journal that the company is in advanced talks to combine with Office Depot. Office Depot leapt $1.48, or 18 percent, to $9.10.

The Reserve Bank of Australia cut its benchmark interest rate by a quarter of a percentage point to a record low of 2.25 percent in an attempt to revive the country's economy, which is being weighed down by falling commodity prices. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 jumped 1.5 percent to close at its highest level since May 2008.

The Shanghai Composite Index surged 2.4 percent. Japan's Nikkei 225 fell 1.3 percent and South Korea's Kospi was flat. Hong Kong's Hang Seng rose 0.3 percent.

The euro was up 0.8 percent at $1.1443 while the dollar rose 0.1 percent to 117.61 yen.

U.S. government bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 1.74 percent from 1.67 percent.