* Dow Chemical, DuPont jump on merger talks
* Yahoo up after shelving Alibaba spinoff plans
* Indexes: Dow up 0.18 pct, S&P up 0.03 pct, Nasdaq down 0.29 pct (Updates to open)
By Tanya Agrawal
Dec 9 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks were higher at the open on Wednesday as crude oil prices clawed back some of their losses and reported merger talks between Dow Chemical and DuPont helped prop up shares of raw materials companies.
Crude oil prices steadied after a brutal five-day selloff, but many investors expect oil to fall below 2008 lows due to a global supply glut. Copper prices also held their ground.
Dow Chemical was up 11.4 percent at $56.70 while DuPont jumped 10 percent to $73.26, after reports that the companies are in talks to merge.
DuPont was the biggest boost to the Dow Jones Industrial average and the S&P 500.
“We’re going to see a little bit of back-and-forth movement today. It has been a quite overnight and volumes have been very, very light in most futures markets,” said John Brady, managing director at brokerage R.J. O‘Brien & Associates in Chicago.
Investors remain cautious as concerns regarding China’s slowing economy and its impact on global demand persist. Those concerns have also hurt commodity stocks this year as China is the world’s biggest consumer of metals.
At 9:38 a.m. ET (1438 GMT) the Dow Jones industrial average was up 31.53 points, or 0.18 percent, at 17,599.53, the S&P 500 was up 0.56 points, or 0.03 percent, at 2,064.15 and the Nasdaq Composite was down 14.65 points, or 0.29 percent, at 5,083.59.
Costco Wholesale was down 5.4 percent at $159.67 after it reported a fall in same-store sales for the third straight quarter. The stock was the biggest drag on the S&P and the Nasdaq.
Six of the 10 major S&P 500 sectors were higher with the materials index’s 3.55 percent rise leading the advancers.
The rout in crude oil prices comes ahead of the U.S. Federal Reserve’s meeting on Dec. 15-16, when the central bank is expected to raise interest rates for the first time since June 2006.
“We’re still in pretty good shape for a Fed rate hike next week. If the Fed fails to raise rates, it will certainly raise volatility in the markets again and the Fed doesn’t want that,” Brady said.
U.S. stocks closed lower on Tuesday, as the rout in oil prices pressured energy stocks for the fifth day.
Data expected on Wednesday include wholesale figures for October at 10 a.m. ET (1400 GMT). The wholesale inventories are forecast to have gained 0.1 percent after adding 0.5 percent in September.
Yahoo was up 2 percent at $35.55, after the company’s board decided not to sell its Alibaba stake. Alibaba was up 0.8 percent at $85.03
Lululemon Athletica was down 5 percent at $49.38 after the yogawear retailer cut the upper end of its full-year forecast and reported a fall in quarterly profit.
Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by 1,455 to 1,165. On the Nasdaq, 1,231 issues fell and 952 advanced.
The S&P 500 index showed 2 new 52-week highs and 8 new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 6 new highs and 41 new lows. (Reporting by Tanya Agrawal and Aastha Agnihotri; Editing by Anil D‘Silva)