* Oil prices fall about 2 pct
* Hershey jumps on Mondelez takeover report
* Indexes up: Dow 0.23 pct, S&P 0.17 pct, Nasdaq 0.07 pct (Adds details, comments, updates prices)
By Yashaswini Swamynathan
June 30 (Reuters) - Wall Street drifted higher in late morning trading on Thursday as consumer staples stocks rose after reports that Oreo cookies maker Mondelez had made a bid to buy Hershey Co.
Hershey’s shares soared 18.6 percent to $115.19, making it the top percentage gainer on the S&P 500. Mondelez was up 1.9 percent.
All 10 major S&P sectors were higher, with the consumer staples index rising 1.43 percent. PepsiCo and Philip Morris rose about 2 percent and were the biggest influences on the index.
The three major indexes have recouped more than half of the losses suffered after a shock vote by Britain to leave the European Union. In a two-day panic selloff after the vote, global markets lost about $3 trillion in value.
Soothing investor nerves, Bank of England Governor Mark Carney said the central bank would probably need to pump more stimulus into Britain’s economy over the summer.
A sharp fall in oil prices, however, limited gains in U.S. indexes.
“The markets are going to be sensitive to oil and economic data, but for the moment, there is nothing on the plate for the them to bite into,” said Andre Bakhos, managing director at Janlyn Capital LLC in New Jersey.
At 10:37 a.m. ET the Dow Jones industrial average was up 41.5 points, or 0.23 percent, at 17,736.18, the S&P 500 was up 3.59 points, or 0.17 percent, at 2,074.36 and the Nasdaq Composite was up 3.49 points, or 0.07 percent, at 4,782.74.
Data showed the number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits rose last week to 268,000, but remained below a level associated with a healthy labor market.
The weekly data is a precursor to the more comprehensive monthly payrolls report due next week, which is expected to feed into the U.S. Federal Reserve’s decision on interest rate hikes this year.
Traders have priced in only a 13.4 percent chance of a hike as late as December, according to CME Group’s FedWatch tool.
General Electric rose 1.3 percent after Goldman Sachs raised its price target on the stock.
Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by 1,598 to 1,257. On the Nasdaq, 1,361 issues rose and 1,176.
The S&P 500 index showed 40 new 52-week highs and 1 new low, while the Nasdaq recorded 34 new highs and 15 new lows. (Reporting by Yashaswini Swamynathan in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty)