* Oil prices stay above $50/bbl
* AbbVie falls on Morgan Stanley downgrade
* Gold price rise boosts miners
* Indexes up: Dow 0.41 pct, S&P 0.32 pct, Nasdaq 0.27 pct (Updates to open)
By Yashaswini Swamynathan
June 8 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks rose on Wednesday, with the S&P inching closer to its record high, as oil prices increased again and chances of an interest rate hike in the near term faded.
Oil held above $50 for the second consecutive day on supply disruptions in Nigeria, a drop in U.S. crude inventories and strong demand in China.
The energy index's 0.8 percent increase led the nine advancers among the 10 major S&P sectors. Only the telecom index was down, off 0.08 percent.
Gains in energy stocks on Tuesday pushed the Dow above the 18,000 mark for the first time since April, while the S&P rose to within 23 points of its record high it touched in May 2015.
A few concurrent bullish events such as demand for commodities and the S&P and Dow breaching key resistance areas will likely keep the markets hovering close to record highs, said Adam Sarhan, chief executive of Sarhan Capital.
"Also oil has almost doubled in price in about 3-4 months. This sort of massive move shows that big institutions are buying the commodity and not just individual investors," Sarhan said.
At 9:48 a.m. ET (1348 GMT) the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 73.62 points, or 0.41 percent, at 18,011.9.
The S&P 500 was up 6.83 points, or 0.32 percent, at 2,118.96. The index's record high is 2134.72 points on May 2015.
The Nasdaq Composite was up 13.19 points, or 0.27 percent, at 4,974.94.
Among energy stocks, Chevron rose 0.4 percent, while Exxon rose 0.6 percent to a new 52-week high of $91.23. Chesapeake was up 8.2 percent and was the top gainer on the S&P.
Investors have all but priced out an interest rate hike when Federal Reserve officials meet on June 14-15, after surprisingly weak monthly jobs data last Friday.
Waning prospects of a near-term rate hike pushed the dollar lower for the fourth day in a row, which in turn boosted commodities.
Gold rose to a near three-week high. Miners Freeport rose 3.5 percent and Newmont gained 3.8 percent.
AbbVie fell 1.4 percent to $62.17, and was the biggest loser on the S&P, after Morgan Stanley downgraded the stock.
Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by 1,889 to 822. On the Nasdaq, 1,298 issues rose and 1,007 fell.
The S&P 500 index showed 22 new 52-week highs and no new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 29 new highs and 11 new lows. (Reporting by Yashaswini Swamynathan in Bengaluru; Editing by Savio D'Souza)