Yet another company hit by Superstorm Sandy was Delta Air Lines, which said its fourth-quarter profit was nearly wiped out after it was forced to cancel more than 20,000 flights. The storm hit Delta harder than other airlines because it slowed operations at Delta's new oil refinery near Philadelphia. The results were still better than analysts were expecting. Delta rose 40 cents, or 2.9 percent, to $14.01.
Tech behemoths Google and IBM reported solid earnings gains after the market closed. Tech companies' results are being watched closely because many of them have warned about a weak fourth quarter.
Google soared after saying its fourth-quarter earnings rose 7 percent as online advertisers spent more money in pursuit of holiday shoppers. The stock gained $29.13, or 4.1 percent, to $732 in after-hours trading.
IBM said its net income rose 6 percent. The stock rose $6.82, or 3.5 percent, to $202.90 in late trading.
Apple reports after the bell Wednesday.
Freight rail companies are another key category at this stage in the economic recovery. They are seen as a proxy for the broader economy because their results track the demand for transportation of materials used in manufacturing and goods sold to consumers and businesses.
Two big railroads reported after the closing bell. CSX gained 74 cents, or 3.6 percent, to $21.55 in after-hours trading after beating analysts' expectations. Norfolk Southern rose $1.05, or 1.6 percent, to $67.99 after the bell.
Some homebuilder stocks fell after the National Association of Homebuilders said sales of previously occupied homes dipped to an annual pace of 4.94 million in December from 4.99 million in November. November's figure was revised lower, but was still the highest in three years.
Lennar Corp. fell a penny to $42.07. Hovnanian Enterprises Inc. lost 6 cents to $6.24.
The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note was unchanged at 1.84 percent.
Benchmark oil rose 62 cents to $96.66 on the New York Mercantile Exchange, as global economic reports remained generally positive.
Daniel Wagner can be reached at www.twitter.com/wagnerreports .