October 27, 2016 / 4:56 PM / 2 years ago

US STOCKS-S&P, Dow rise on health stocks; Nasdaq weighed by Comcast

* Comcast falls on PT cuts from Deutsche, Barclays

* GE, Boeing lead industrials lower

* Dow up 0.12 pct, S&P up 0.03 pct, Nasdaq down 0.21 pct (Updates to early afternoon)

By Yashaswini Swamynathan

Oct 27 (Reuters) - The S&P 500 and the Dow were back in positive territory as healthcare stocks outdid a drag from consumer discretionary stocks.

The S&P 500 healthcare index rose 1.15 percent, on track for its best day in six weeks, riding on strong results and forecast from Bristol-Myers and Celgene. The two drugmakers were the top boosts on the S&P 500.

Profits at S&P 500 companies have largely exceeded analysts’ estimates for the third quarter so far, setting up for the first profit growth since the second quarter of 2015.

“This is a pretty important quarter because we are expecting an inflection to put that earnings recession in the rear-view mirror and we’re going to have positive earnings growth ... Still it is not very robust,” said Michael Scanlon, managing director of Manulife Asset Management.

Overall earnings for the S&P 500 companies in the latest quarter are expected to rise 2.6 percent, with financials the top gainers and energy companies the biggest losers, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Five of the 11 major S&P sectors were higher, while the newly minted real estate index fell 2.4 percent mainly due to a 2.9 percent fall in Simon Property.

Comcast remained the top drag on the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq, falling 2.3 percent after Barclays and Deutsche Bank cut their price targets and cited increased competition from AT&T-owned DirecTV Now.

Comcast, along with Ford, whose quarterly net income fell by more than 50 percent, were chiefly responsible for the consumer discretionary index to fall 0.6 percent.

Industrials fell 0.71 percent, pulled down by Boeing, which rallied on Wednesday, and GE.

At 12:30 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones industrial average was up 22.53 points, or 0.12 percent, at 18,221.86

The S&P 500 was up 0.72 points, or 0.03 percent, at 2,140.15 and the Nasdaq Composite was down 10.80 points, or 0.21 percent, at 5,239.47.

Google parent Alphabet was down 0.4 percent, while online retailer Amazon.com rose 0.3 percent. The two companies are scheduled to report after markets close on Thursday.

Investors also took Qualcomm’s deal to buy NXP Semiconductors for an enterprise value of $47 billion as a sign of confidence in the U.S. equity market. NXP’s shares rose just over 1 percent, while Qualcomm was 4.1 percent higher.

Tesla gained 1.2 percent after the electric carmaker reported its first quarterly net profit in more than three years.

Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by 1,925 to 955. On the Nasdaq, 1,568 issues fell and 1,106 advanced.

The S&P 500 index showed 15 new 52-week highs and nine new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 62 new highs and 74 new lows. (Reporting by Yashaswini Swamynathan in Bengaluru; Editing by Don Sebastian)

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