JPMorgan leads Dow average higher in early trading

NEW YORK (AP) ? JPMorgan and other large banks are pushing stock indexes higher in early trading Tuesday, offsetting a weak reading of business sentiment.

JPMorgan Chase & Co. rose 2.9 percent, the most of any stock in the Dow Jones industrial average. Analysts at Stifel Nicolaus put a “buy” rating on JPMorgan, saying the bank was undervalued after falling 25 percent since May. Other large banks also rose. Wells Fargo & Co. and Morgan Stanley were up more than 2.5 percent.

At 10:10 a.m., the Dow Jones industrial average rose 71 points, or 0.6 percent, to 11,137. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 11 points, or 0.9 percent, to 1,173.

The Nasdaq rose 27 points, or 1.1 percent, to 2,522. Apple rose less than 1 percent after analysts at Morgan Stanley said the cash-rich company was more likely than ever to reward investors with a dividend or through buying back its stock.

Stocks opened mixed after an index of small business activity from the National Federation of Independent Business dropped to a 13-month low in August. The NFIB said companies surveyed had weaker expectations for sales and a bleaker view of the overall economy.

Best Buy Co. plunged 6.3 percent to $23.39, the biggest loss of any S&P 500 stock, after the electronic retailer reported a fall in quarterly profit. Sales in stores open a year or longer dropped 2.8 percent.

Major European markets were slightly higher Tuesday after Italy’s finance minister confirmed that officials had met with China’s sovereign wealth fund about buying Italian bonds. A report that China may buy Italian government bonds helped stock indexes eke out slight gains on Monday.

The Dow and S&P 500 have lost more than 4.6 percent this month amid worries that Europe’s debt crisis could knock the U.S. into another recession. The U.S. economy is already slowing, and unemployment remains high at 9.1 percent.