* U.S. crude oil hits six-month high
* Apple hits new 52-week low, weighs on indexes
* Kohl’s falls after posting drop in net sales
* Monsanto jumps on reports of Bayer mulling bid for company
* Dow up 0.15 pct, S&P up 0.09 pct, Nasdaq down 0.19 pct (Updates to open)
By Tanya Agrawal
May 12 (Reuters) - The Dow and S&P 500 rose slightly in early trading on Thursday as a rise in oil prices boosted materials and energy shares, but a decline in Apple capped gains and pushed the Nasdaq lower.
U.S. oil prices hit a six-month high as data from the International Energy Agency showing tightening supply, while U.S. crude inventories unexpectedly decreased.
Oil majors and Dow components Exxon and Chevron were up about 1 percent.
Apple tumbled 1.8 percent at a 52-week low of $90.83, dragging on all three indexes.
Wall Street dropped on Wednesday as feeble quarterly reports from Walt Disney, Macy’s and Fossil undermined confidence across the consumer sector.
The results on Thursday were mixed, with Kohl’s reporting weak sales, while Ralph Lauren’s sales fell less than expected.
The retailers’ reports come a day ahead of retail sales data for April and in a week where no major economic data was released.
“We’re in this thin period in terms of economic data and the market is basically looking for direction depending on the strength of the economy,” said Scott Brown, chief economist at Raymond James in St. Petersburg, Florida.
“We are going to be in this risk-on, risk-off mode till we get some direction.”
At 10:00 a.m. ET (1400 GMT) the Dow Jones industrial average was up 26.53 points, or 0.15 percent, at 17,737.65 and the S&P 500 was up 1.9 points, or 0.09 percent, at 2,066.36.
The Nasdaq Composite was down 9.10 points, or 0.19 percent, at 4,751.59.
Eight of the 10 major S&P 500 sectors were higher, with the materials index’s 1.63 percent rise leading the advancers.
The consumer discretionary index, which got slammed on Tuesday, was up 0.43 percent, despite Kohl’s falling 6.3 percent to $36.17 after reporting an unexpected drop in quarterly comparable sales.
Luxury fashion retailer Ralph Lauren was up 2 percent at $86.22 after its better-than-expected results.
Investors remain cautious about corporate earnings. First-quarter earnings for S&P 500 companies have mostly beaten analysts’ expectations, but are estimated to have fallen 5.4 percent from a year ago, according to Thomson Reuters data.
Monsanto was up 9.8 percent at $99.28 after the U.S. seed company was said to be the possible acquisition target of Bayer AG and of BASF SE, according to two media reports.
Investors will also be keeping an eye on a trio of Federal Reserve speakers scheduled to speak later in the day for clues regarding the future path of rate increases by the central bank.
Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by 1,804 to 888. On the Nasdaq, 1,249 issues rose and 1,114 fell.
The S&P 500 index showed 18 new 52-week highs and 8 new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 10 new highs and 49 new lows. (Reporting by Tanya Agrawal; Editing by Savio D‘Souza)