Stocks opened sharply higher on Thursday, sending the S&P 500 up more than 2 percent, as surprisingly upbeat preliminary quarterly results from Wells Fargo fueled hopes that stabilization may be returning in the banking sector.

A 5 percent jump in crude oil prices to $52.09 a barrel also underpinned the early advance as energy shares headed higher.

The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> was up 143.52 points, or 1.83 percent, at 7,980.63. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> was up 18.90 points, or 2.29 percent, at 844.06. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> was up 28.29 points, or 1.78 percent, at 1,618.95.

(Reporting by Ellis Mnyandu; Editing by Theodore d'Afflisio)