* Brent crude pares early gains to turn flat
* Initial claims point to strengthening labor market
* Oracle up after results
* Indexes up: Dow 1.19 pct, S&P 1.2 pct, Nasdaq 1.33 pct (Adds Philly Fed data)
By Chuck Mikolajczak
NEW YORK, Dec 18 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks climbed on Thursday, led by tech shares, to build on the prior session’s rally in the wake of the U.S. Federal Reserve’s policy statement.
The benchmark S&P 500 index had notched its best day since October 2013 on Wednesday after the Federal Reserve gave an upbeat assessment of the U.S. economy and said it would take a patient approach toward raising interest rates.
The technology sector, up 1.8 percent, helped fuel the advance, buoyed by a gain of over 8 percent in Oracle Corp to $44.47 after its quarterly results topped Wall Street expectations.
Oil prices were volatile, with Brent crude hitting a high of $63.70 and WTI crude reaching $58.73 before turning slightly lower. After climbing more than 2 percent, the S&P Energy sector was last up 0.1 percent as the worst performing S&P sector.
“While the net effects of oil are being evaluated, it appears investors have taken a stance to take advantage of the extended downside move of the market,” said Andre Bakhos, managing director at Janlyn Capital LLC in Bernardsville, New Jersey.
“All the money that has come out of oil needs to find a home. Money is systematically being forced into equities, for example, out of energy into technology.”
The S&P 500 had fallen nearly 5 percent from its most recent record high on Dec. 5 before the strong gains on Wednesday.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 207.24 points, or 1.19 percent, to 17,564.11, the S&P 500 gained 24.12 points, or 1.2 percent, to 2,037.01 and the Nasdaq Composite added 61.89 points, or 1.33 percent, to 4,706.20.
Weekly jobless claims fell more than expected, suggesting the labor market continued to strengthen. However, readings on the U.S. services sector and mid-Atlantic factory activity indicated a slower pace of growth.
Canadian convenience store operator Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc said it will buy U.S. convenience store chain The Pantry Inc for $1.7 billion, including debt. Pantry shares gained 3 percent to $36.57.
Rita Aid shares surged 12.2 percent to $6.80 after the drugstore chain’s quarterly results topped expectations and it boosted its 2015 outlook.
Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by 2,263 to 750, for a 3.02-to-1 ratio; on the Nasdaq, 1,834 issues rose and 775 fell for a 2.37-to-1 ratio.
The S&P 500 was posting 51 new 52-week highs and 5 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite was recording 104 new highs and 21 lows.
Editing by Bernadette Baum and Nick Zieminski