June 22, 2017 / 3:39 PM / a year ago

US STOCKS-Gains in healthcare stocks lift Wall Street

* Weekly jobless claims rise

* S&P health index hits record high

* Oracle rises after upbeat forecast

* Graphic: S&P 500 vs S&P Energy bit.ly/2suhqu6

* Indexes up: Dow 0.20 pct, S&P 0.18 pct, Nasdaq 0.10 pct (Adds details, comment, updates price)

By Sruthi Shankar

June 22 (Reuters) - Wall Street was higher in late morning trading on Thursday as health stocks got a boost after Republicans unveiled a bill to repeal Obamacare and the energy sector took a breather with oil prices edging up from multi-month lows.

The S&P healthcare index rose 1.08 percent to hit a record high as investors cheered the bill, which is aimed at curbing Medicaid funding and reshaping subsidies to low-income people for private insurance.

United Health, Johnson and Johnson and Gilead rose between 1 percent and 3.6 percent, and were among the biggest boosts on the three major indexes.

The Nasdaq biotechnology index rose 1.3 percent and is now up more than 9 percent for the week.

A slight rebound in oil prices also relieved some pressure. U.S. crude was up 1.4 percent at $43.11 per barrel, while global benchmark Brent was 1.65 percent higher at $45.56.

Since peaking in late February, crude has dropped around 20 percent, skidding into bear market territory, despite OPEC-led efforts to stabilize the market.

“Oil is at a price level where it tends to keep markets down,” said Randy Frederick, vice president of trading and derivatives for Charles Schwab in Austin, Texas.

The S&P energy index is the worst performing sector so far this year, having lost about 15 percent. The broader S&P 500 index rose about 9 percent in the same period.

At 11:10 a.m. ET (1510 GMT), the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 43.36 points, or 0.2 percent, at 21,453.39, the S&P 500 was up 4.48 points, or 0.18 percent, at 2,440.09.

The Nasdaq Composite index was up 6.31 points, or 0.1 percent, at 6,240.26.

Investors are also concerned that the drop in oil prices could affect inflation. Inflation remains stubbornly below the Federal Reserve’s 2 percent target, even as the central bank adopts a hawkish tone regarding future rate hikes.

“Right now the bond market seems to be convinced that inflation is going to remain much lower than what the Fed thinks,” Frederick added.

Economic data on Thursday showed jobless claims for last increased by 3,000 to 241,000, but remain at levels consistent with a tight labor market.

Among stocks, Accenture was off 5.7 percent after the consulting and outsourcing services provider trimmed its annual revenue forecast.

Oracle was up 9.5 percent as the business software maker forecast an upbeat current-quarter profit, prompting brokerages to raise price targets.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by 1,824 to 938. On the Nasdaq, 1,578 issues rose and 1,091 fell. (Reporting by Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty)

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