* Greece’s lenders signal willingness to compromise
* Strong U.S. jobs, trade data points to economic rebound
* Rise in U.S. treasury yields weighs on utilities
* C.H. Robinson rally lifts transport stocks
* Indexes up: Dow 0.34 pct, S&P 0.14 pct, Nasdaq 0.34 pct (Updates to early afternoon)
By Tanya Agrawal
June 3 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks were higher in early afternoon trading on Wednesday on optimism that Greece was close to an agreement to avoid a default and as strong domestic data suggested an rebound in the economy.
Even as Greece warned it might skip an IMF loan repayment due this week, its international creditors signaled they were ready to compromise, with the country’s prime minister expected to hear terms of the plan later on Wednesday. France’s president suggested that an agreement was within reach.
“Greece is driving the market sentiment today,” said Marshall Gause, chief executive officer of Geneva Fund Partners in Denver, Colorado.
“As the risk around Greece is starting to significantly reduce, investors are putting back money into U.S. equities.”
The market also got a boost from data that showed U.S. trade deficit narrowed in April after surging in March, while companies picked up their hiring in May after a pullback the previous month.
Investors have been keeping a keen eye on economic data for clues on the timing of a rate hike by the U.S. Federal Reserve - the first in nearly a decade.
At 12:31 p.m. ET the Dow Jones industrial average was up 61.1 points, or 0.34 percent, at 18,073.04, the S&P 500 was up 2.91 points, or 0.14 percent, at 2,112.51 and the Nasdaq Composite was up 17.17 points, or 0.34 percent, at 5,093.69.
The strong employment report pushed U.S. benchmark Treasury debt yields to their highest since November. That weighed on utilities and other dividend paying shares, which tend to compete with bonds as investments.
The utilities index fell 1.76 percent, down for a second straight session, and was the biggest loser among the 10 major S&P 500 sectors.
Five of the sectors were higher, with the teleservices sector’s 0.78 percent rise leading the gains.
C.H. Robinson jumped 5.2 percent to $64.44, helping the Dow Jones transportation index gain 1.1 percent and recover from a recent spell of weakness.
Synchronoss Technologies’ shares jumped 18.8 percent to $50.54 after the Wall Street Journal reported that the software maker was working on a possible sale that could be valued at more than $2 billion.
Wendy’s rose as much as 5.5 percent to a more than 7-year high of $11.71 after the hamburger chain said it would buy back $1.4 billion of shares, including some from Nelson Peltz’s Trian Group, its largest shareholder.
Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by 1,480 to 1,474, for a 1.00-to-1 ratio on the upside. On the Nasdaq, 1,797 issues rose and 868 fell for a 2.07-to-1 ratio favoring advancers.
The S&P 500 index showed nine new 52-week highs and four new lows while the Nasdaq recorded 123 new highs and 17 new lows. (Editing by Ted Kerr and Savio D‘Souza)