* Durable goods orders rebound strongly in Jan
* Salesforce.com up after raising revenue forecast
* Dow up 0.77 pct, S&P up 0.60 pct, Nasdaq up 0.36 pct (Updates to afternoon)
By Noel Randewich
Feb 25 (Reuters) - Wall Street gained on Thursday as strong U.S. manufacturing data pointed to a recovery in the struggling sector and some investors saw opportunities after weeks of volatility.
Orders for U.S. durable goods rose more than expected in January as demand picked up across the board, offering a ray of hope for the downtrodden manufacturing sector.
The second uptick in two days for stocks came despite a drop in oil prices, which have been a major influence on markets this year as investors view weak energy demand as a sign of sluggish global growth.
The S&P 500 has recovered 6 percent in the past nine sessions but it remains down 5 percent in 2016 as oil hovers near decade lows. Some investors took Wall Street’s recent gains as a sign that prices are stabilizing.
“I have a lot of people calling me and saying ‘Hey, I’ve got $50,000 in the bank earning zero percent. Is it time to put it to work?',” said Jake Dollarhide, chief executive officer of Longbow Asset Management in Tulsa, Oklahoma, which has about $50 million in assets under management.
At 1:42 p.m., the Dow Jones industrial average was up 0.77 percent at 16,612.34 points and the S&P 500 had gained 0.6 percent to 1,941.31.
The Nasdaq Composite was up 0.36 percent to 4,558.77.
Nine of the 10 major S&P sectors were higher, with strong gains in financial and telecom stocks. The energy sector was down 0.45 percent.
The financial sector has fallen 12 percent this year, easily the worst performer on the S&P, as fears loom about a wave of defaults from oil and gas companies.
Shares of Salesforce.com Inc surged 8.2 percent after the online customer management software maker reported higher-than-expected revenue and raised its full-year forecast. The stock gave the biggest boost to the S&P 500.
Gun maker Sturm Ruger & Co jumped 6.5 percent after reporting quarterly results that handily beat Wall Street’s expectations.
Tech leader Alphabet Inc rose 1 percent, fueling much of the Nasdaq’s gains.
Food company Kraft Heinz Co rose 2.1 percent, while Gap Inc was down 0.11 percent ahead of its results after the close.
Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the New York Stock Exchange by 1,969 to 997. On the Nasdaq, 1,497 issues rose and 1,170 advanced.
The S&P 500 index showed 31 new 52-week highs and two new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 31 new highs and 42 lows. (Additional reporting by Abhiram Nandakumar in Bengaluru; Editing by Bill Rigby)