Stocks rose early Thursday, putting the S&P on track for its third straight advance after Bank of America and Morgan Stanley reported earnings and as strong demand at European bond auctions eased euro zone debt concerns.

Bank of America Corp climbed 5.2 percent to $7.14 after it reported a fourth-quarter profit, reversing a year-earlier loss, boosted by one-time items and lower expenses for bad loans.

Fellow financial Morgan Stanley jumped 6.2 percent to $18.45 after the Wall Street bank posted a quarterly loss but still managed to top analysts' expectations.

Financial shares have rallied since the start of the year. The S&P financial index <.GSPF> is up more than 7 percent for 2012, helping to push the benchmark S&P 500 index up 4 percent. The index was up 0.6 percent in early trading.

In a sign that investor nervousness over the euro zone's debt crisis was easing, Spain and France both drew strong demand at government debt auctions.

It's a combination of no horror stories out of Europe and it is earnings season. We are up and down with the different earnings releases, of course, but in general they are expected to be good, said Frank Lesh, a futures analyst and broker at FuturePath Trading LLC in Chicago.

Overall, earnings are expected to be positive and a positive influence for the market.

The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> gained 16.12 points, or 0.13 percent, to 12,595.07. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> rose 3.19 points, or 0.24 percent, to 1,311.23. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> added 12.03 points, or 0.43 percent, to 2,781.74.

The Nasdaq got a boost from eBay Inc , which reported better-than-expected results after the close on Wednesday. The stock was up 2.5 percent to $31.07.

Talks between Greece and its creditors were proceeding, sources said, but much more progress was needed before a deal could be reached on a bond swap.

New data generally supported the view the U.S. economy continued to improve at a moderate pace. New jobless claims dropped to a near four-year low last week and consumer prices showed inflation remained in check, although housing starts dipped.

The Philadelphia Federal Reserve Bank's January business activity survey was due at 10 a.m. EST.

After the close, quarterly reports are due from technology bellwethers Google Inc , International Business Machines Corp , Intel Corp as well as Microsoft Corp .

(Reporting By Chuck Mikolajczak; editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)