* Apple drops to two-year low, weighs on indexes
* Kohl’s falls after posting drop in net sales
* Monsanto rises on reports of possible bid for company
* Indexes mixed: Dow +0.19 pct, S&P +0.10 pct, Nasdaq -0.36 pct (Updates to afternoon)
By Noel Randewich
May 12 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks moved higher on Thursday, with gains in telecommunications and consumers staples outweighing a tumble in Apple to a two-year low.
The S&P 500 and Dow Jones industrial average rose in the afternoon after declining earlier in the session. Microsoft Corp , up 1.09 percent, contributed the most to the S&P 500’s gain.
Apple Inc, a mainstay in many portfolios, was the heaviest drag on the three major indexes, slumping as much as 3.3 percent to $89.47, its lowest since June 2014, as worries festered about slowing demand for iPhones.
A rally in the S&P 500 from its February lows petered out in the last two weeks amid underwhelming corporate reports and economic data that clouded the path of interest rate increases this year.
On Thursday, two Fed officials said the central bank should raise rates if data points to an improving economy.
“Until we get some new impetus, we’re going to be directionless,” said Warren West, principal at Greentree Brokerage Services in Philadelphia. “It’s a slow, grinding economy, so you’re going to get slow, grinding stocks.”
At 2:44 pm, the Dow was up 0.19 percent at 17,745.53 points and the S&P 500 was 0.1 percent higher at 2,066.52.
The Nasdaq Composite was 0.36 percent lower at 4,743.47.
Seven of the 10 major S&P 500 sectors were higher, led by an 0.88 percent gain in telecommunications and a 0.66 percent rise in consumer staples.
Monsanto Co rose 8.3 percent after media reports said the seed company was a possible acquisition target.
Kohl’s Corp tumbled 9.5 percent after posting an unexpected drop in quarterly comparable sales.
Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by 1,483 to 1,470. On the Nasdaq, 1,763 issues were down and 1,011 up.
The S&P 500 index showed 26 new 52-week highs and 15 new lows, while the Nasdaq had 22 new highs and 90 new lows. (Additional reporting by Tanya Agrawal; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)