The Office of National Statistics in Britain said the country's gross domestic product fell 0.2 percent in the first quarter. Although the report is considered "preliminary" as it is the first of three estimates, the fall puts Britain technically in a recession.
In Washington, the Commerce Department said durable goods orders in March fell 4.2 percent from February to $202.6 billion. Economists expected a considerably less dramatic drop of 1.5 percent.
The economic news was offset by a particularly robust quarterly report from Apple Inc., which said its profits nearly doubled in its second fiscal quarter, largely due to strong sales in China.
By close of trading, the Dow Jones industrial average added 89.16 points or 0.69 percent to 13,090.72. The tech-dominated Nasdaq composite index gained 68.03 points or 2.3 percent to 3,029.63. The Standard and Poor's 500 index gained 18.72 points or 1.36 percent to 1,390.69.
On the New York Stock Exchange, 2,351 stocks advanced and 706 declined on a volume of 3.8 billion shares traded.
The 10-year treasury note fell 1/32 to yield 1.99 percent.
The euro rose fell to $1.3218 from Tuesday's $1.3197. Against the yen, the dollar rose to 81.34 yen from Tuesday's 81.32 yen.
In Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 index added 0.98 percent, 92.97, to 9,561.01.
In London, the FTSE 100 index added 0.16 percent, 9.40, to 5,718.89.
Notable deaths of 2014 [PHOTOS]
XXL Magazine to end print edition after 17 years