Stocks rose at the open on Wednesday, buoyed by hopes that Washington will soon restore confidence in banks, but American Express kept the market's advance in check after a bearish broker view.

In an interview on the Public Broadcasting Corp's Charlie Rose Show, U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said he wanted to make it compelling for banks to cleanse balance sheets of toxic assets and will move quickly in coming weeks to set up details for financing bad asset sales.

The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> rose 40.07 points, or 0.58 percent, to 6,966.56. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> gained 5.33 points, or 0.74 percent, to 724.93. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> was up 7.68 points, or 0.57 percent, at 1,365.96.

(Reporting by Leah Schnurr)