* Jobless claims fall more than expected
* Durable goods orders rise 1.3 pct in Oct
* Consumer spending barely rises
* Indexes up: Dow 0.11 pct, S&P 0.06 pct, Nasdaq 0.32 pct (Updates to late afternoon, adds commentary, changes byline)
By Sinead Carew
Nov 25 (Reuters) - Wall Street stocks were slightly higher in light trading on Wednesday, with the biggest gains in healthcare and consumer stocks as the latest data showed a modestly growing U.S. economy.
While investors cited good conditions for consumers, they were also cautious about global security issues and the impact from the first U.S. interest rate hike since 2006, which is expected in December.
“With market valuations where they’re at right now, there’s potential downside if the next data point or global political event is negative,” said Jeff Morris, head of U.S. equities at Standard Life Investments in Boston.
“At the same time, we feel the U.S. economy continues its slow recovery and the underpinnings for U.S. equities are relatively solid. The consumer is benefiting from an improved labor market, relatively low interest rates.”
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 19.64 points, or 0.11 percent, to 17,831.83, the S&P 500 gained 1.32 points, or 0.06 percent, to 2,090.46 and the Nasdaq Composite added 16.32 points, or 0.32 percent, to 5,119.13.
On Wednesday, many traders were turning their focus to expectations for the U.S. holiday shopping season, which starts after Thursday’s Thanksgiving holiday.
“That’s going to be the key, the swing factor for the next couple of weeks - how holiday sales shape up,” said Michael Baele, senior portfolio manager at U.S. Bank Private Client Reserve in Portland, Oregon.
“When you consider the job market, low energy costs (and) low interest rates, the consumer’s in pretty good shape.”
Data showed claims for jobless benefits fell more than expected to 260,000 last week, while durable goods orders for October, excluding aircraft, increased 1.3 percent, far more than the 0.4 percent expected.
However, other reports suggested consumers were not in a spending mood, with consumer spending increasing just 0.1 percent in October compared with the 0.3 percent expected.
The University of Michigan’s final index on consumer sentiment for November also fell short of estimates.
Four of the 10 major S&P sectors were higher, with gains in the healthcare and consumer discretionary sectors leading the way, while the energy and utilities sectors were lower.
Farm equipment maker Deere was up about 4 percent at $79.37 after its quarterly profit beat estimates.
HP Inc, the new company that houses the former Hewlett-Packard Co’s printer and PC businesses, dropped 13 percent to $12.64 after its profit forecast missed estimates.
Hewlett-Packard Enterprise, HP’s corporate hardware and services businesses, rose 3.4 percent to $14.15 after it maintained its full-year profit forecast.
Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by 1,837 to 1,172, for a 1.57-to-1 ratio on the upside; on the Nasdaq, 1,837 issues rose and 933 fell for a 1.97-to-1 ratio favoring advancers.
The S&P 500 posted 17 new 52-week highs and no new lows; the Nasdaq recorded 76 new highs and 33 new lows. (Additional reporting by Abhiram Nandakumar in Bengaluru; Editing by Ted Kerr and Nick Zieminski)