U.S. equities advanced after two days of declines, as Apple Inc. led a technology rally and Alcoa Inc.™s results boosted optimism in the economy. Retailers drove stocks higher in Europe, while oil fluctuated after dropping below $45 a barrel in New York.

The Standard & Poor™s 500 Index gained 0.7 percent at 12:23 p.m. in New York, trimming gains as homebuilders slumped. Apple and Amazon.com Inc. advanced more than 2 percent following ratings upgrades. West Texas Intermediate oil slipped 0.8 percent to $45.70 a barrel, paring a slide of more than 3 percent. Copper declined 3 percent, as the Bloomberg Commodity Index fell to the lowest since 2002. The Stoxx Europe 600 Index rose 1.4 percent, while the euro slumped to a nine-year low on stimulus bets.

The S&P 500 rebounded from a two-day drop of 1.6 percent that left it 3 percent below its Dec. 29 record. Alcoa, the largest U.S. aluminum producer, reported profit and sales that beat analysts™ estimates. Apple rallied after Credit Suisse AG raised its rating on the company. Declining fuel prices have curbed inflation expectations, cutting the chance of an early Federal Reserve interest-rate increase while boosting speculation the European Central Bank will expand stimulus.

Source: Bloomberg