* Second-qtr wage growth slowest in 33 years
* Exxon, Chevron fall as weak oil prices weigh on profits
* Expedia jumps after results
* Indexes up: Dow 0.01 pct, S&P 0.14 pct, Nasdaq 0.40 pct (Updates to early afternoon)
By Tanya Agrawal
July 31 (Reuters) - Wall Street rose in early afternoon 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.
All three major indexes were poised to end the month higher as earnings reports pushed global concerns to the background.
Exxon Mobil shares fell 3.5 percent to $80.12 while Chevron was down 3.9 percent at $89.43 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, with U.S. crude set to post the largest monthly drop since the 2008 financial crisis, 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 12:46 p.m. ET (1646 GMT), the Dow Jones industrial average was up 1.17 points, or 0.01 percent, at 17,747.15, the S&P 500 was up 3.03 points, or 0.14 percent, at 2,111.66 and the Nasdaq Composite was up 20.55 points, or 0.4 percent, at 5,149.33.
Six of the 10 major S&P 500 sectors were higher with the utilities index’s 1.34 percent rise leading the advancers. The energy index fell 1.65 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 9 percent to $206.62 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.
Coca-Cola Enterprises jumped 13.4 percent to $51.52 after a Wall Street Journal report said the independent Coca-Cola bottling company is in merger talks with two European bottlers.
Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by 2,105 to 868. On the Nasdaq, 1,812 issues rose and 882 fell.
The S&P 500 index showed 40 new 52-week highs and seven new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 86 new highs and 57 new lows. (Editing by Don Sebastian)