US STOCKS-Wall St near session highs as healthcare stocks lead
* Indexes up: Dow 0.71 pct, S&P 0.58 pct, Nasdaq 0.8 pct
By Chuck Mikolajczak
NEW YORK, Sept 24 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks were near session highs in the latter stages of trading on Wednesday, led by healthcare stocks after the S&P 500 successfully tested a key support level following three sessions of declines.
The benchmark S&P index hit a session low of 1,978.63, just above the 50-day moving average support level of around 1,976, before turning higher. The index had fallen below its 14-day moving average, an indicator of short-term momentum, on Monday for the first time since Sept. 15.
Indexes added to gains and hit session highs after Chicago Federal Reserve Bank President Charles Evans said the central bank should be "exceptionally patient" in removing monetary policy accommodation at a Peterson Institute conference on labor market slack.
"We got a little Fed speaking going on it looks like, we had Evans saying let's not be too quick to raise rates, the market loves that," said Joe Saluzzi, co-manager of trading at Themis Trading in Chatham, New Jersey.
"If you look at the second leg of the rally, (Evans) is definitely responsible for the second leg."
The Dow Jones industrial average was rising 121.17 points, or 0.71 percent, to 17,177.04, the S&P 500 was gaining 11.45 points, or 0.58 percent, to 1,994.22 and the Nasdaq Composite was adding 36.10 points, or 0.8 percent, to 4,544.79.
Healthcare was the best performing of the 10 major S&P sectors, up 1.5 percent, as Gilead Sciences rose 2.7 percent to $108.24 after trial results for the company's HIV treatment. Continuación...