* Crude prices rise after flirting with 11-year lows
* DuPont, Dow Chemical fall after deal to merge
* Trina Solar surges after go-private proposal
* Dow up 0.24 pct, S&P up 0.15 pct, Nasdaq up 0.06 pct (Updates to late afternoon, adds details, changes byline)
By Marcus E. Howard
Dec 14 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks were up slightly in afternoon trading, rebounding from last week’s slump with help from a reversal in oil prices, which settled higher in Monday’s session.
The S&P materials sector was the worst performer of the day, hurt by Dow Chemical and DuPont, which agreed on Friday to merge.
Investors were worried about everything from high yield bonds to oil price volatility to slowing economic growth in China, according to Stephen Guilfoyle, managing director, floor operations, Deep Value Execution Services.
“I think we’ve got a lot of fear in the market,” said Guilfoyle.
The S&P energy sector was up slightly. U.S. crude oil settled up on Monday after moving within a hair of 11-year lows, as record short-interest led to technical covering on fears that the market declined too quickly.
Equity investors were still concerned after the collapse of Third Avenue Management LLC’s junk bond fund last week and the company announced Monday that its chief executive agreed to leave.
“It’s just the fear of the unknown,” said Angel Mata, managing director of listed equity trading, Stifel Capital Markets in Baltimore. “2008 - though it was seven years ago - is still fresh in everybody’s mind and the fear is we could have a kind of situation that we had back then, which was driven by the fixed-income side.”
At 2:54 p.m., the Dow Jones industrial average rose 41.02 points, or 0.24 percent, to 17,306.23, the S&P 500 gained 2.95 points, or 0.15 percent, to 2,015.32 and the Nasdaq Composite added 3.04 points, or 0.06 percent, to 4,936.51.
Investors were also waiting for commentary from the Federal Reserve after its meeting Tuesday and Wednesday, which may result in the first U.S. rate hike in nearly a decade.
Traders see 83-percent chance that the Fed will lift rates, according to the CME Group’s FedWatch program.
Five of the 10 major S&P sectors were lower, led by the materials sector’s 1.9-percent fall.
DuPont shares were down 4 percent at $67.58 after the company agreed on Friday to merge with Dow Chemical in a $130 billion deal. Dow Chemical was down 4.65 percent at $50.89.
These stocks were the biggest drag on the S&P materials sector.
Newell Rubbermaid was down 7.3 percent at $41.99. Newell, known for its food containers, agreed to buy Sunbeam and Coleman products maker Jarden Corp for more than $15 billion. Jarden was up 2.7 percent at $54.12.
Among gainers, Trina Solar surged 11.3 percent to $10.63 after the company received a go-private proposal from a group that included its chief executive, valuing the company at more than $980 million.
NYSE declining issues outnumbered advancing 2,389 to 739, for a 3.23-to-1 ratio on the downside; on the Nasdaq, 1,772 issues fell and 1,038 advanced for a 1.71-to-1 ratio favoring decliners.
The S&P 500 posted 2 new 52-week highs and 54 lows; the Nasdaq recorded 16 new highs and 215 lows. (Reporting by Marcus E. Howard, additional reporting by Sinead Carew, Abhiram Nandakumar in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D‘Silva and Nick Zieminski)