April 8, 2016 / 5:16 PM / 2 years ago

US STOCKS-S&P, Dow gain on surge in oil prices

* Technology, healthcare stocks drag Nasdaq

* Crude jumps 6 pct

* Gap sinks after poor March same-store sales

* Dow up 0.24 pct, S&P up 0.31 pct, Nasdaq down 0.14 pct (Adds details, changes shares)

By Yashaswini Swamynathan and Abhiram Nandakumar

April 8 (Reuters) - A sharp rally in crude oil drove gains on the S&P 500 and the Dow on Friday, but a fall in healthcare and technology stocks pushed the Nasdaq into negative territory.

Oil prices jumped more than 6 percent after data showed drawdowns in U.S. stockpiles, suggesting underlying strength in the economy as demand for energy picks up.

Fed Chair Janet Yellen said on Thursday that the U.S. economy was on “a solid course,” while New York Fed President William Dudley said on Friday a cautious and gradual approach to raising rates was appropriate.

“The market’s been directionless all week and there hasn’t been any clear trend to speak of,” said Neil Massa, senior trader at John Hancock Asset Management in Boston.

“Right now, crude being up is helping the market go up.”

Investors will now focus on the upcoming corporate earnings season. Profits at S&P 500 companies are expected to have declined 7.6 percent in the first quarter, according to Thomson Reuters data.

At 12:26 p.m. ET, the Dow Jones industrial average was up 41.92 points, or 0.24 percent, at 17,583.88, the S&P 500 was up 6.39 points, or 0.31 percent, at 2,048.3 and the Nasdaq Composite was down 6.80 points, or 0.14 percent, at 4,841.56.

Still, the S&P 500 was down 1.1 percent for the week, on course for its biggest weekly decline in two months.

Seven of the 10 major S&P sectors were higher, led by a 2 percent rise in energy. Chevron rose 1.7 percent.

Valeant Pharmaceuticals fell 3.8 percent to $34.16 after Bill Ackman said that the Canadian drugmaker would not sell Bausch and Lomb.

Facebook’s 2.6 percent fall to $110.65 was the biggest drag on the Nasdaq.

Gap sank 14 percent to $23.82 after the company’s poor same-store sales for March prompted Citigroup to cut its price target on the stock.

Among the bright spots, Boeing was up 1.3 percent at $128.69, giving the biggest boost to the Dow. The company said it had booked four orders for its 747-8 freighter.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by 2,257 to 705. On the Nasdaq, 1,494 issues rose and 1,198 fell.

The S&P 500 index showed 14 new 52-week highs and one new low, while the Nasdaq recorded 22 new highs and 16 new lows. (Reporting by Yashaswini Swamynathan and Abhiram Nandakumar in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D’Silva)

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