* Apple rises after Goldman adds to “conviction buy” list
* Fairchild Semiconductor up after buyout offer
* Fed minutes for Oct. meeting expected at 2 p.m. ET
* Indexes up: Dow 0.80 pct, S&P 0.81 pct, Nasdaq 0.89 pct (Updates to early afternoon)
By Abhiram Nandakumar
Nov 18 (Reuters) - Wall Street was higher on Wednesday, boosted by Apple and healthcare stocks, as investors treaded water ahead of minutes from the Federal Reserve’s October meeting that could help clarify the central bank’s position on a December rate hike.
Apple’s shares were up 2.6 percent at $116.65 after Goldman Sachs added the iPhone maker to its “conviction buy” list, saying it sees potential for the stock gaining as much as 43 percent from current levels.
The stock provided the biggest boost to the three major indexes.
Investors, however, remained cautious due to increased global security concerns after last week’s attacks in Paris.
“All eyes are on the Fed, while geopolitical concerns remain on the minds of the investors,” said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at First Standard Financial in New York.
The minutes of the Fed’s meeting, due at 2:00 p.m. ET (1900 GMT), will give investors clues on the central bank’s reading of the economy.
Investors widely expect the central bank to raise rates in December, but remain uncertain about the magnitude of the increase and the timing of further hikes.
“Until they start to get some clarity on that, you’ll just see the ‘little bit up, little bit down’ type of trading range that we’re in right now,” said Dan Farley, regional investment strategist at U.S. Bank Wealth Management in Minneapolis.
Data on Wednesday showed U.S. housing starts fell to a seven-month low, but a surge in building permits suggested the housing market remained on solid ground.
Lowe’s wobbled despite reporting better-than-expected profit and were nearly flat at $72.70. Home Depot was down 0.4 percent to $125.67.
At 12:30 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones industrial average was up 140.13 points, or 0.80 percent, at 17,629.63, the S&P 500 was up 16.57 points, or 0.81 percent, at 2,067.01 and the Nasdaq Composite index was up 44.36 points, or 0.89 percent, at 5,030.38.
Eight of the 10 major S&P sectors were higher, led by a 1.25 percent rise in the healthcare sector. Allergan and Gilead gave the biggest boosts to the sector.
Target fell nearly 6 percent to $68.62 as disappointing digital sales overshadowed raised full-year profit forecast.
Fairchild Semiconductor jumped 8.5 percent to $19.40 after On Semiconductor said it would buy the company for $2.4 billion. On Semiconductor fell 7.8 percent to $9.90.
Qualcomm dropped 9.5 percent to $47.93 after a South Korean regulator alleged the chipmaker violated the country’s competition law.
Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by 1,988 to 969. On the Nasdaq, 1,724 issues rose and 977 fell.
The S&P 500 index showed 12 new 52-week highs and six new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 32 new highs and 85 new lows. (Reporting by Abhiram Nandakumar in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty)