Stocks opened higher on Monday after influential bank analyst Meredith Whitney upgraded Goldman Sachs Group to buy and gave a bullish assessment of the financial sector's likely performance, sparking hope that quarterly results may be surprisingly strong.

The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> was up 23.43 points, or 0.29 percent, at 8,169.95. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> was up 3.32 points, or 0.38 percent, at 882.45. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> was up 3.79 points, or 0.22 percent, at 1,759.82.

(Reporting by Ellis Mnyandu; Editing by Padraic Cassidy)