* US crude at 15-month highs on surprise drop in stockpiles
* Morgan Stanley rounds off strong quarter for big banks
* Intel drags on major indexes after disappointing forecast
* Indexes up: Dow 0.41 pct, S&P 0.29 pct, Nasdaq 0.04 pct (Updates to early afternoon)
By Yashaswini Swamynathan
Oct 19 (Reuters) - Wall Street was on track for its second straight day of gains on Wednesday as oil prices boosted energy stocks and financials got a lift after Morgan Stanley rounded off a strong quarter for big U.S. banks.
However, gains, especially on the Nasdaq, were limited by Intel. The chipmaker tumbled 6 percent, weighing the most on major indexes, after its disappointing revenue forecast. The chip index dipped 0.54 percent.
U.S. crude prices surged 3 percent to a 15-month high after a report showed an unexpected drop in U.S. crude stockpiles.
The energy sector jumped 1.74 percent, the most in three weeks, also boosted by a 4.8 percent rise in Halliburton following its surprise quarterly profit.
Morgan Stanley inched up 0.8 percent after its results. The financial sector has gained 1.8 percent in the past four trading days as the banks reported, while the KBW bank index is up nearly 3 percent.
Now, about 80 percent of the 70 S&P 500 companies that have reported so far have beaten earnings’ expectations, increasing the likelihood of snapping a four-quarter earnings recession.
Analysts now estimate earnings increased 0.5 percent in the third quarter, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
“We would see the third quarter as the bottoming out of the earnings recession that we have been experiencing for the last year or so,” said Tracy Maeter, global investment specialist, J.P. Morgan Private Bank in Philadelphia.
At 12:27 p.m. ET (1627 GMT), the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 74.79 points, or 0.41 percent, at 18,236.73.
The S&P 500 was up 6.16 points, or 0.29 percent, at 2,145.76 and the Nasdaq Composite was up 2.25 points, or 0.04 percent, at 5,246.08.
Eight of the 11 major S&P sectors were higher. The consumer staples’ 0.7 percent drop was the steepest.
The Federal Reserve is due to release its Beige Book at about 2:00 p.m. ET, giving anecdotal commentary on the health of the U.S. economy.
The third and final U.S. presidential debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton starts later in the day. The stock market had gained on both days after the previous two debates, which were perceived to be won by Clinton.
“The noise in the marketplace around politics can drive stocks in the short term, but in terms of the underlying influence ... that’s going to be driven more by the economy and the profitability of companies,” Maeter said.
Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by 2,178 to 721. On the Nasdaq, 1,637 issues rose and 1,008 fell.
The S&P 500 index showed eight new 52-week highs and two new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 45 new highs and 44 new lows. (Reporting by Yashaswini Swamynathan in Bengaluru; Editing by Savio D’Souza)