March 28, 2017 / 3:38 PM / a year ago

US STOCKS-Dow on track to snap 8-day losing streak as banks gain

* Consumer confidence index jumps to 16-yr high in March

* Bank shares rise; healthcare stocks slip

* Fed Chair Janet Yellen to speak later in the day

* Indexes up: Dow 0.29 pct, S&P 0.23 pct, Nasdaq 0.04 pct (Adds details, comments, updates prices)

By Yashaswini Swamynathan

March 28 (Reuters) - The Dow was on track to snap an eight-day losing streak on Tuesday as financial stocks rose on the back of strong consumer data, offsetting losses in the healthcare sector.

U.S. consumers’ confidence in the economy rose in March to its highest level since December 2000, a survey by the Conference Board showed on Tuesday, led by optimism for finding work and a brighter assessment of business conditions.

The S&P 500 financial sector rose 0.67 percent. Gains in Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan propped up the Dow.

“This market is driven by two things - the hope of policy agenda getting put into place and improving fundamentals,” said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at Wunderlich Equity Capital Markets in New York.

“Whenever you found out that the agenda might take longer to get put out, you’ve gotten some piece of economic data that reminds you that the fundamental backdrop is still strong.”

Tuesday’s gains come after a week of declines on the Dow as investors fretted over President Donald Trump’s ability to push his agenda as his healthcare bill failed to find enough supporters before being withdrawn in Congress on Friday.

However, investors appeared to have shrugged off the setback, choosing instead to focus on Trump’s promise of reforming the U.S. tax code, which has been a key driver in the post-election record rally.

The White House late on Monday said it would take a lead role in crafting the tax reform legislature and set an August target date for the bill.

At 11:01 a.m. ET (1501 GMT), the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 59.54 points, or 0.29 percent, at 20,610.52, the S&P 500 was up 5.48 points, or 0.23 percent, at 2,347.07 and the Nasdaq Composite was up 2.12 points, or 0.04 percent, at 5,842.49.

Five of the 11 major S&P 500 sectors were higher, led by gains in financials, three were lower and the rest remained flat.

Healthcare, which had risen the most on Monday, was off 0.4 percent, weighed down by Johnson & Johnson and Gilead.

Apple’s 0.6 percent gain made it the top stock on the S&P and the Nasdaq.

General Motors rose 3 percent to $35.76 after activist investor David Einhorn’s Greenlight Capital urged the carmaker to split its stock into two classes.

Tesla rose 2.3 percent to $276.66 after disclosing that Chinese technology giant Tencent Holdings had taken a 5 percent passive stake in the company for $1.78 billion.

Comments from several Federal Reserve officials, including Fed Chair Janet Yellen, on Tuesday will be closely watched for more insight into the health of the U.S. economy and the timing of the next interest rate hike.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by 1,704 to 1,063. On the Nasdaq, 1,388 issues fell and 1,235 advanced.

The S&P 500 index showed 12 new 52-week highs and four new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 56 new highs and 22 new lows. (Reporting by Yashaswini Swamynathan in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D’Silva)

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