May 5, 2016 / 1:52 PM / 2 years ago

US STOCKS-Wall St opens higher as rising oil boosts energy stocks

* Weekly jobless claims rise more than expected

* Alibaba rises after reporting results

* Fitbit slumps after profit forecast misses est.

* Indexes up: Dow 0.22 pct, S&P 0.25 pct, Nasdaq 0.20 pct (Updates to open)

By Tanya Agrawal

May 5 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks opened higher on Thursday as oil rose for the first time this week, helping boost energy shares, and investors awaited the monthly jobs data on Friday.

Oil prices jumped more than 3 percent as a huge wildfire near Canada’s oil sands region and escalating tensions in Libya stoked concerns among investors of a near-term shortage in supply.

Jobs data for April is expected to show that nonfarm payrolls likely rose by 202,000, after rising 215,000 in March. The unemployment rate is forecast to hold at 5 percent.

The data is keenly watched as any signs of a strengthening labor market could influence the pace of future rate hikes. Traders, however, are pricing in only one increase later this year.

An accommodative Federal Reserve and a recovery in oil prices have helped U.S. stocks rebound from sharp losses at the start of the year. However, the rally lost momentum in the past two weeks, weighed down by underwhelming quarterly earnings and mixed economic data.

“What we’re seeing is a bit of a relief rally from oversold levels,” said Adam Sarhan, chief executive of Sarhan Capital in New York.

“The bulk of the earnings are behind us and now investors are looking ahead to the jobs report. There is an expectation that the economy and earnings are going to improve but that still needs to be proved.”

At 9:37 a.m. ET (1337 GMT) the Dow Jones industrial average was up 38.39 points, or 0.22 percent, at 17,689.65, the S&P 500 was up 5.14 points, or 0.25 percent, at 2,056.26 and the Nasdaq Composite was up 9.25 points, or 0.2 percent, at 4,734.88.

Eight of the 10 major S&P sectors were higher, with the energy index’s 1.27 percent rise leading the gainers.

Oil majors Exxon and Chevron were up about 1 percent each in early trading.

Data on Thursday showed the number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits rose more than expected last week, posting the biggest jump in more than a year, but the underlying trend continued to point to a strengthening labor market.

A number of Federal Reserve heads, including James Bullard of the St. Louis Fed and John Williams of the San Francisco Fed, will present their views on the monetary policy at a central banking conference held at Stanford University later in the day.

Shares of Tesla Motors were up 1 percent at $225 after the company’s first-quarter results broadly beat Wall Street targets.

Fitbit fell 12.2 percent to $15.02 after the wearable fitness device maker’s profit forecast for the current quarter fell far short of analysts’ estimates.

Alibaba was up 4.3 percent at $79.01 as China’s biggest e-commerce company said fourth-quarter revenue rose 39 percent.

Regeneron Pharmaceuticals was up 4.7 percent at $377.72 after reporting better-than-expected quarterly revenue.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by 1,698 to 841. On the Nasdaq, 1,245 issues rose and 939 fell.

The S&P 500 index showed 10 new 52-week highs and two new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 13 new highs and 14 new lows. (Reporting by Tanya Agrawal; Editing by Anil D’Silva)

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