U.S. Stocks Mostly Higher At The Start, Fueled By Financials

NEW YORK (MarketWatch) -- U.S. stocks on Friday began mostly ahead, with American Express Co.'s better-than-expected earnings report offering hope for the beleaguered financial sector, while Microsoft Corp.'s profit drop weighed on technology.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 12.38 points to 12,861.33, with 19 of its 30 components tallying opening gains, led by American Express , up 4.9% after the credit card giant's late Thursday report of a less-than-forecast first-quarter profit drop.

Microsoft led blue-chip declines, its stock down 5.5% in the wake of its earnings report after the close on Thursday, which had the software titan reporting an 11% profit drop on virtually flat revenue. .

The S&P 500 rose 3.33 points to 1,392.15, while the Nasdaq Composite fell 14.69 points to 2,414.23.

Baidu.com Inc. advanced 4.2% after it reported first-quarter net income soared 71%.

Strength from financials - and in Europe, from the technology sector - drove overseas stocks higher. The Nikkei 225 rose 2.4% in Tokyo, and the FTSE 100 was up 0.4% in London.

By Kate Gibson