Earnings gains drive US stock indexes sharply higher in midday trade; 3M, Caterpillar lead Dow

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NEW YORK — Impressive results from Caterpillar, 3M and other big companies are driving stocks sharply higher in midday trading.

The gains powered a surge in industrial stocks, which rose 2.4 percent, nearly twice as much as the rest of the market.

Southwest Airlines gained 2 percent after reporting income that was better than analysts were expecting.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 26 points, or 1.4 percent, to 1,953 as of 11:55 a.m. Eastern time Thursday.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 244 points, or 1.5 percent, to 16,706. The Nasdaq composite rose 74 points, or 1.7 percent, to 4,456.

The price of crude oil rose $1.27 to $81.80 a barrel in New York.

Bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 2.28 percent.

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