Stock markets in the United States and in Europe have recovered much of yesterday's losses as companies report solid earnings.

About halfway through the US quarterly reporting season, most companies have posted better than expected earnings.

Trade on Wall Street was also lifted by figures showing the US services sector continued to expand for a third year.

Elsewhere on the market, the world's third biggest computer maker Dell is going private in a $23.5 billion leveraged buyout deal.

Dell's founder and chief executive, Michael Dell, will take majority control, with Mr Dell and private equity company Silver Lake to pay $US13.65 a share in cash.

The company, which was first listed on the US stock exchange in 1988, has struggled to keep up with competition from smart phones and tablet computers.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose by 0.7 per cent to 13,979, the S&P 500 index gained 1 per cent to 1,511, and the Nasdaq Composite Index jumped 1.3 per cent to 3,172.

In Europe, trade was also boosted by some strong company profit announcements, and a measure of business activity in the eurozone pointed to green shoots of recovery.

In London, the FTSE 100 gained 0.6 per cent to 6,283, the DAX in Germany added 0.4 per cent, and the CAC 40 in France rose by 1 per cent.

Back home, futures trade is suggesting a good start to the Australian session - the ASX SPI 200 index was 20 points higher at 4,864.

On commodity markets, the spot price of gold has slipped to $US1,673 an ounce, and West Texas crude oil is edging higher to $US96.70 a barrel.

In currency trade, the Australian dollar was down against the greenback after the Reserve Bank left the official interest rate on hold yesterday but hinted that further cuts may be ahead, but it continues to climb against a weaker yen.

At 8:30am (AEDT) it was buying 103.9 US cents, 76.5 euro cents, 97.2 Japanese yen, 66.4 British pence and around $NZ1.23.

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