Goldman's earnings report "underscored the relief bid in the works in anticipation" of its results, said Action Economics analysts.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 69 points to 13,236.20, with all but three of its 30 components trading higher.
The S&P 500 gained 9.64 points to 1,455.54, while the Nasdaq Composite climbed 18.53 points to 2.592.99.
Also bolstering equities was the European Central Bank's move Tuesday to make available more than $500 billion to boost liquidity in the banking system. .
On the New York Mercantile Exchange, crude-oil futures were up $1.79 at $92.42 a barrel. .
And in the metal pits, gold rallied, recently climbing more than 1% to $808.20 an ounce. .
Ahead of Wall Street's opening bell, stock futures held the bulk of their gains after the government reported new single-family home construction slowed to its weakest pace in 16 years in November, with starts down 5.4% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 829,000. .
"For the second month in a row, the volatile multi-family starts category was strong, while single-family groundbreaking activity sagged," said Stephen Stanley, chief economist at RBS Greenwich Capital.
Goldman Sachs reported fourth-quarter net income rose 2% from a year ago, with profit topping Wall Street estimates for an eighth straight quarter.
And Best Buy said third-quarter profit climbed to 53 cents a share from 31 cents a year earlier, exceeding forecasts.
Other issues likely to be in focus included Adobe Systems Inc. , after the software maker late Monday reported strong fourth-quarter profit and sales that mostly topped analysts' estimates. .
By Kate Gibson