* Oil prices rise more than 3 pct
* 179,000 private sector jobs added in July vs est. 170,000
* Bank shares drive S&P 500
* Indexes up: Dow 0.12 pct, S&P 0.12 pct, Nasdaq 0.11 pct (Updates to early afternoon)
By Yashaswini Swamynathan
Aug 3 (Reuters) - Wall Street was higher on Wednesday after a sharp rise in oil prices boosted energy shares, while robust jobs data helped financial stocks.
Data showed the U.S. private sector added 179,000 jobs in July, beating estimates of 170,000. The ADP national employment report is seen as a precursor to the more comprehensive jobs data on Friday.
If the labor market is able to build on its recent strength, it could make the case for the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates later this year.
“I think any kind of strength in the overall economy does help the financials because it increases the prospects of the Fed being able to raise interest rates,” said Robert Pavlik, chief market strategist at Boston Private Wealth in New York.
Oil prices jumped 3 percent, rising for the first time in six days, after a larger-than-expected gasoline draw offset a surprise build in U.S. crude stockpiles.
“You are still seeing some pressure on energy stocks, but I think for the most part, it is not completely scaring everybody out of the energy space,” Pavlik said.
Five of the 10 major S&P sectors were higher, led by a 1.13 percent rise in energy stocks, followed by 0.88 percent gains in financials.
Shares of JPMorgan, Citigroup, and Bank of America rose between 1.3 percent and 2.2 percent and were among the top five stocks to boost the S&P 500.
Goldman Sachs was up 1.6 percent at $158.46 and gave the biggest boost to the Dow.
Oil major Chevron rose 0.7 percent and Williams Cos jumped 7.8 percent.
Utilities, consumer staples and telecom services, seen as traditionally defensive, were the big losers.
At 12:27 p.m. ET (1627 GMT), the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 21.48 points, or 0.12 percent, at 18,335.25.
The S&P 500 was up 2.63 points, or 0.12 percent, at 2,159.66.
The Nasdaq Composite was up 5.78 points, or 0.11 percent, at 5,143.52.
AIG jumped 6.9 percent to $57.88 after the insurer’s second-quarter profit beat analysts’ estimates. The stock was the second-biggest influence on the S&P.
Tesla and Twenty-First Century Fox are scheduled to report after the bell.
Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by 1,831 to 1,072. On the Nasdaq, 1,625 issues rose and 1,067 fell.
The S&P 500 index showed eight new 52-week highs and one new low, while the Nasdaq recorded 54 new highs and 34 new lows. (Reporting by Yashaswini Swamynathan in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D‘Silva)