* Oil hits four-month high on commodities rally
* Financials higher ahead of bank earnings
* Norfolk Southern shares fall as Canadian Pacific drops bid
* Indexes up: Dow 0.5 pct, S&P 0.31 pct, Nasdaq 0.36 pct (Updates to late afternoon)
By Lewis Krauskopf
April 11 (Reuters) - Wall Street edged higher on Monday as oil prices climbed while financial shares gained ahead of a big week of earnings results from banks.
The three major indexes registered modest increases after posting losses last week.
Investors are next looking for cues from the first-quarter earnings season, set to begin in earnest with Alcoa’s report after the bell on Monday. Ahead of the results, Alcoa shares were up 4 percent.
Profits at S&P 500 companies are expected to have fallen 7.7 percent in the first quarter, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Financial shares, the worst performing group this year, were among the leaders on Monday. JPMorgan, Citigroup and Bank of America all gained ahead of their quarterly reports this week.
“We’re heading into earnings season. The market strength could be foreshadowing profits being better than expectations and the bar has been set pretty low,” said Chuck Carlson, chief executive officer at Horizon Investment Services in Hammond, Indiana.
A rocky start of the year was followed by a sharp rebound since mid-February and stocks are now little changed for the year so far.
Stocks have also followed the fluctuations in oil prices for much of the past few months, although that correlation has softened in recent weeks. Brent crude prices touched a four-month high on Monday as a rally in wider commodities markets encouraged buying ahead of a meeting of oil producers in Doha next Sunday.
“Markets have been trading on crude as much as anything, so that is probably helping,” Carlson said.
The Dow Jones industrial average was up 87.01 points, or 0.5 percent, to 17,663.97, the S&P 500 had gained 6.42 points, or 0.31 percent, to 2,054.02 and the Nasdaq Composite had added 17.34 points, or 0.36 percent, to 4,868.03.
Six of the 10 S&P sectors were higher, led by the financial and materials sectors.
Apple rose 1.1 percent to $109.86 and gave the biggest boost to the S&P and the Nasdaq.
Norfolk Southern shares fell 2 percent to $79.83 after Canadian Pacific said it was giving up on its $28 billion bid to buy the railroad.
National Oilwell Varco dropped 5.8 percent to $27.42 after the oilfield equipment maker said it would cut its quarterly dividend.
Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by 2,124 to 870, for a 2.44-to-1 ratio on the upside; on the Nasdaq, 1,636 issues rose and 1,133 fell for a 1.44-to-1 ratio favoring advancers.
The S&P 500 posted 21 new 52-week highs and 3 new lows; the Nasdaq recorded 36 new highs and 25 new lows. (Reporting by Lewis Krauskopf in New York; additional reporting by Abhiram Nandakumar in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D‘Silva and Nick Zieminski)