* Second-qtr wage growth slowest in 33 years
* Exxon, Chevron fall as weak oil prices weigh on profits
* Expedia, YRC rise after results
* Indexes up: Dow 0.02 pct, S&P 0.13 pct, Nasdaq 0.35 pct (Adds details, comment, updates prices)
By Tanya Agrawal
July 31 (Reuters) - Wall Street edged higher in late morning trading on Friday after an historically weak reading of U.S wage growth lent weight to the view that the U.S. Federal Reserve could delay a rate increase.
U.S. stocks had been slightly choppy just after the opening bell as investors took cues from weak earnings from oil producers Exxon Mobil and Chevron and depressed commodity prices.
Exxon Mobil shares fell 4.1 percent to $79.63 while Chevron was down 3.4 percent at $89.90 after quarterly profits slumped on falling oil prices.
Positive commentary from the Fed about the economy earlier in the week is seen by many investors as a signal that a rate rise could come as early as September. The prospect of the first hike in nearly a decade has led to a fall in U.S. equities’ share in global portfolios.
U.S. labor costs in the second quarter recorded their smallest increase in 33 years amid tepid gains in the private sector with the Employment Cost Index edging up 0.2 percent, compared with a 0.6 percent increase expected by economists.
“The magnitude of the miss was definitely a bit of a surprise, especially as people were really gearing up for a September hike. This definitely puts a lower probability on that,” said Stanley Sun, interest rate strategist at Nomura Securities International in New York.
Oil prices fell on global oversupply concerns, while copper was lower on lingering worries about demand in top consumer China.
A sharp selloff in Chinese shares over the past weeks has stoked concerns about a slowdown in growth in the world’s second-biggest economy.
At 11:11 a.m. ET (1511 GMT), the Dow Jones industrial average was up 2.67 points, or 0.02 percent, at 17,748.65, the S&P 500 was up 2.8 points, or 0.13 percent, at 2,111.43 and the Nasdaq Composite was up 17.79 points, or 0.35 percent, at 5,146.58.
Seven of the 10 major S&P 500 sectors were higher with the utilities index’s 1.61 percent rise leading the advancers. The energy index fell 1.96 percent.
With more than half of the S&P 500 companies having reported quarterly results, analysts expect overall earnings to edge up 1 percent and revenue to decline 3.3 percent, according to Thomson Reuters data.
While earnings are expected to grow, valuations remain a concern. The S&P 500 is trading near 16.8 times forward 12-month earnings, above the 10-year median of 14.7 times, according to StarMine data.
Stocks are a tad expensive and will be a concern if earnings don’t continue to grow in the second half of the year, said Steve Freedman, senior investment strategist at UBS Wealth Management.
LinkedIn fell 8.2 percent to $208.87 after the operator of the biggest social networking site for professionals reported a bigger net loss.
Expedia rose 10.2 percent to $118.78 after the company posted a second-quarter profit above analysts’ expectations and announced a larger dividend.
YRC Worldwide soared 26.3 percent to $19.34 a day after the trucking company reported better-than-expected second-quarter profit.
Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by 2,094 to 811. On the Nasdaq, 1,735 issues rose and 855 fell.
The S&P 500 index showed 37 new 52-week highs and six new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 71 new highs and 51 new lows. (Editing by Don Sebastian)