U.S. stocks rose from their lowest levels in nearly five months, as Chinese economic-growth data eased investor concern over a hard landing while still leaving open the possibility of government stimulus.

Consumer shares paced the advance, with Procter & Gamble Co. and Altria Group Inc. up at least 1.2 percent. Morgan Stanley increased 1.7 percent after reporting quarterly profit and revenue that exceeded estimates. Bank of America Corp. weighed, falling 2.6 percent, even as its results exceeded estimates. Crude prices remained an influence on fragile sentiment, with equity gains tracking today’s fluctuations in oil.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index added 0.3 percent to 1,886.57 at 12:17 p.m. in New York, after earlier rising as much as 1.1 percent. The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 59.58 points, or 0.4 percent, to 16,047.66. The Nasdaq Composite Index was little changed. Trading in S&P 500 shares was 26 percent above the 30-day average for this time of the day.

European and Asian stocks rose amid speculation of further Chinese state aid after a report showed gross domestic product expanded 6.9 percent in 2015, just shy of the government’s 7 percent target, and the least since 1990.

The S&P 500 on Friday slid to its lowest level since Aug. 25. The index was off to its worst-ever start to a year, amid concerns that China’s policy interventions won’t be enough to stoke growth in the world’s second-biggest economy, while oil tumbled to a 12-year low.

The equity benchmark is down more than 11 percent from its record set last May, and has slumped 9 percent since the Federal Reserve raised interest rates last month for the first time since 2006. Meanwhile, a measure of volatility has jumped the most since a selloff in August which sent the S&P 500 into its first correction in four years.

Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo builder sentiment index held at 60 in January after the prior month was revised down a point, figures from the Washington-based group showed.

As corporate earnings gather more attention with investors weighing the health of the U.S. economy. Netflix Inc. and International Business Machines Corp. are also among those posting results today after markets close. Analysts project profits for index members fell 7 percent in the fourth quarter.

Eight of the 10 main groups in the S&P 500 advanced, boosted by a rebound among consumer staples stocks, which gained 1 percent. The group fell 1.6 percent Friday to close at a two-month low. Modelez International Inc. and Campbell Soup Co. added more than 2 percent today.

Viacom Inc. and Macy’s Inc. helped power a rally in consumer discretionary shares after the group fell for a sixth week out of seven. Macy’s rose 3.3 percent after David Einhorn’s Greenlight Capital LLC reported a new position in the retailer. Greenlight said in a letter that a private equity firm and a real estate investment trust could team up to purchase the company and “unlock the value” of its land and buildings. Meanwhile, Viacom advanced 5.4 percent after the media giant was said to be targeted by an activist investor.

Health care stocks were also among the biggest gainers in the U.S. benchmark. Tenet Healthcare Corp. climbed 2.4 percent after the hospital operator added two members of Glenview Capital Management to its board. Johnson & Johnson rose 1.2 percent amid its plan to cut 3,000 jobs to improve its lagging medical-device unit.

The second-biggest U.S. lender, Bank of America said profit rose 9.4 percent thanks to fixed-income trading revenue. Still, shares erased earlier gains, falling as much as 2.7 percent. Meanwhile, Morgan Stanley climbed 1.7 percent, paring an earlier 4.5 percent surge, after its better-than-estimated earnings and plans for cutting at least $1 billion in costs by next year.

Source : Bloomberg