* Consumer confidence highest since January
* Eight of 10 S&P sectors up
* Health care index bounces back
* Indexes up: Dow 0.09 pct, S&P 0.25 pct, Nasdaq 0.25 pct (Updates prices)
By Abhiram Nandakumar and Sweta Singh
Sept 29 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks were higher in late morning trading on Tuesday as shares of health care companies bounced back and data showed consumer confidence was at its highest since January.
Concerns about the health of the global economy, however, persisted after weak data from China sparked a sharp selloff on Monday.
Eight of the 10 S&P sectors were up, with the healthcare index’s 1.50 percent gain leading the advancers. The index had been under pressure after U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton criticized drug pricing last week.
Johnson & Johnson and Medtronic provided the biggest boost to the index, which closed down in the last seven sessions.
The materials index was up 0.69 percent, recovering some of Monday’s losses.
“I think it’s just more of a relief rally and it’s going to be important to see the market hold the rally and maybe even improve as we go through the day,” said Paul Nolte, portfolio manager at Kingsview Asset Management in Chicago.
The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq composite closed down in the last five sessions.
“I think a lot of traders are hoping that this is the end of the pullback,” said Gordon Charlop, a managing director at Rosenblatt Securities in New York.
Investors are keeping an eye on data scheduled to be released this week, culminating in nonfarm payrolls numbers on Friday.
Data on Tuesday showed the consumer confidence index rose to 103.0, topping economists’ expectation of 96.1.
With third-quarter earnings season looming, Goldman Sachs said on Tuesday it expects sales growth for S&P 500 companies to shrink this year for the first time in five years.
At 11:26 a.m. ET (1526 GMT), the Dow Jones industrial average was up 14.4 points, or 0.09 percent, at 16,016.29, the S&P 500 was up 4.64 points, or 0.25 percent, at 1,886.41 and the Nasdaq composite was up 11.25 points, or 0.25 percent, at 4,555.22.
U.S. companies reporting quarterly earnings on Tuesday include Costco and Diamond Foods.
Yahoo shares rose 3.2 percent to $28.48 on Tuesday, a day after the Internet company’s board decided to proceed with spinning off Alibaba stake.
Nexstar rose 4.3 percent to $45.38 after activist investor Starboard Value LP urged regional TV company Media General to sell itself to Nexstar. [ID: nL3N11Z4EU]
Republic Airways was up 8.7 percent at $5.74 after Deutsche Bank raised the stock to “buy” and the airline reached agreement on new contract with its pilots.
Shares of Phoenix Cos more than doubled to $32.69 after the life insurer agreed to be taken private by Nassau Reinsurance.
Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by 1,479 to 1,445. On the Nasdaq, 1,425 issues fell and 1,222 advanced.
The S&P 500 index showed one new 52-week high and 55 new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded eight new highs and 200 new lows. (Reporting by Abhiram Nandakumar and Sweta Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty)