Stocks are trading solidly higher at midday after European markets rallied and corporate bellwether Alcoa predicted stronger demand in 2012.
European markets soared after Fitch Ratings said it will not downgrade France this year. A downgrade for France could scuttle the region's efforts to stem its debt crisis. Europe's bailout fund relies on the sterling credit ratings of France and Germany to borrow at affordable rates.
Aluminum maker Alcoa kicked off the U.S. corporate earnings season late Monday by forecasting stronger demand in 2012 from a range of global industries.
The Dow is up 92 points, or 0.8 percent, at 12,485 shortly before noon Eastern time. The S&P 500 is up 13, or 1 percent, at 1,293. The Nasdaq is up 28, or 1.1 percent, at 2,704.