* China trade data better than expected
* Crude oil snaps 7-day losing streak
* Microsoft rises on Morgan Stanley upgrade
* GM gains, Ford drops on contrasting forecasts
* Indexes up: Dow 0.39 pct, S&P 0.51 pct, Nasdaq 0.52 pct (Updates to open)
By Abhiram Nandakumar
Jan 13 (Reuters) - Wall Street was higher on Wednesday, in tandem with a recovery in crude oil prices as positive Chinese trade data allayed fears about the health of the world’s second-biggest economy.
China exports fell just 1.4 percent in December, much less than the expected 8 percent drop. A 4-percent fall in imports was also much smaller than many had feared.
Crude prices were up for the first time in eight days, also helped by a surprise decline in U.S. inventories. Oil briefly fell below the widely watched $30-per-barrel level on Tuesday.
“The risk markets, near term, are still going to be paying closest attention to the price of oil,” said Mark Heppenstall, chief investment office of Penn Mutual Asset Management in Horsham, Pennsylvania.
At 9:41 a.m. ET (1441 GMT), the Dow Jones industrial average was up 64.72 points, or 0.39 percent, at 16,580.94.
The S&P 500 was up 9.88 points, or 0.51 percent, at 1,948.56 and the Nasdaq Composite index was up 24.16 points, or 0.52 percent, at 4,710.08.
The S&P energy sector jumped nearly 2 percent, leading the eight advancing sectors on the S&P 500. Both the consumer sectors, consumer staples and consumer discretionary, were down.
Chevron was up 1.8 percent, giving the biggest boost to the Dow, while Exxon was up 1.5 percent.
Microsoft gained 2 percent to $53.84 on a Morgan Stanley upgrade. The stock give the biggest boost to the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq.
General Motors jumped 3.3 percent to $31.31 after raising its 2016 profit outlook and dividend.
However, Ford’s profit forecast missed estimates, sending its stock down 2.4 percent to $12.55.
Metlife was up 6.7 percent at $44.79 after the biggest U.S. life insurer said it plans to separate a large part of its retail business.
The U.S. Treasury Department is scheduled to release its budget report for December at 2 p.m.
Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by 2,057 to 664. On the Nasdaq, 1,590 issues rose and 642 fell.
The S&P 500 index showed one new 52-week high and five new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded three new highs and 39 new lows. (Reporting by Abhiram Nandakumar in Bengaluru; Editing by Savio D‘Souza)