U.S. stocks open on strong earnings reports

NEW YORK - Stocks are rising broadly in afternoon trading Thursday after several big companies reported better-than-expected earnings. The rise in U.S. stocks follows a rally in European markets on news that Greece's parliament approved tax hikes, cuts to pensions and other measures demanded by its creditors.

The Dow Jones industrial average was up 43 points, or 0.2 percent, at 18,093 as of 2:12 p.m. ET. The Standard & Poor's 500 index gained 13 points, or 0.6 percent, to 2,121. The Nasdaq composite climbed 51 points, or 1 percent, to 5,150.

Eurozone creditors agreed to start discussions about a new bailout package for Greece after that country's lawmakers approved a strict austerity bill that the creditors had required. Separately, the European Union agreed to provide a short-term loan to Greece, and the European Central Bank decided to raise the amount of emergency liquidity available to the country's banks.

Netflix jumped 15 percent, the biggest gainer in the S&P 500, after announcing late Wednesday that it had added far more subscribers than projected to its service in the second quarter, some 3.3 million. Netflix earnings fell 63 percent for the three-month period, but still beat expectations. Its stock rose $14.38 to $112.50.

Citigroup climbed $1.95, or 3.5 percent, to $58.41 after announcing profits had rebounded in the second quarter from the same period a year earlier, when the bank recorded a huge legal settlement with regulators for its role in the housing bubble and financial crisis.

EBay rose $2.23, or 3.5 percent, to $66.67 after announcing earnings that topped Wall Street expectations. The company also said it sold a business that helps develop online sites for retailers as it prepares to spin off PayPal.

Financial analysts expect earnings for companies in the S&P 500 to fall 3.8 percent from a year earlier, according to S&P Capital IQ, a data provider. But companies tend to talk down earnings expectations so they can surprise markets with higher results, and that appears to be happening again.

"Just like every earnings season, expectations are low," said Jack Ablin, chief investment officer of BMO Private Bank. He added, though, that "if today is any indication, three-quarters of the companies will beat."

Major stock indexes in Europe rose after the news about Greece. Germany's DAX and France's CAC-40 each climbed 1.5 percent. Britain's FTSE 100 gained 0.6 percent.

The Shanghai Composite Index rose after two days of big drops, climbing 0.5 percent. In other Asian markets, Japan's Nikkei 225 advanced 0.7 percent and South Korea's Kospi added 0.7 percent. Hong Kong's Hang Seng edged up 0.4 percent.

The euro fell to its lowest level since the beginning of June, slipping to $1.0882 from $1.0954 in late trading Wednesday. Against Japan's currency, the dollar was roughly flat at 124 yen.

Benchmark U.S. crude fell 5 cents to $51.36 a barrel in New York.

U.S government bond prices didn't move much. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note held steady at 2.35 percent.

Precious and industrial metals futures closed mostly lower. Gold lost $3.50 to $1,143.90 an ounce, silver fell 6 cents to $14.96 an ounce and copper was little changed at $2.53 a pound.