November 29, 2016 / 6:02 PM / in 2 years

US STOCKS-Nasdaq hits record; health stocks, GDP data boost Wall St

* Nasdaq hits record high; S&P closes in on record

* Oil prices fall nearly 4 pct ahead of OPEC meeting

* Healthcare gains; UnitedHealth hits record on forecast

* Tiffany rises on first sales increase in 8 quarters

* Indexes up: Dow 0.14 pct, S&P 0.24 pct, Nasdaq 0.50 pct (Updates to early afternoon)

By Tanya Agrawal and Anya George Tharakan

Nov 29 (Reuters) - Wall Street shrugged off a slide in oil prices on Tuesday to move higher in early afternoon trading, with the Nasdaq hitting a record high, boosted by healthcare stocks and strong economic data.

The S&P energy index dropped 1.52 percent, leading the decliners among the 11 major S&P sectors. The healthcare index’s 0.84 percent gain, led the eight advancers.

Boosting the health sector was UnitedHealth’s near 4 percent rise to a record high after the largest U.S. health insurer’s upbeat forecast. Other insurers also gained.

Other major gainers among health stocks were AbbVie , which was up 3.5 percent, and Clegene, which rose 2 percent. The Nasdaq Biotech index was up 0.56 percent.

Also helping boost sentiment was data that showed the U.S. economy grew faster than initially thought in the third quarter, notching its best performance in two years.

Gross domestic product increased at a 3.2 percent annual rate instead of the previously reported 2.9 percent pace, the Commerce Department said in its second GDP estimate.

A Conference Board report showed its consumer sentiment index surged in November, climbing back to pre-recession levels.

At 12:35 p.m. ET (1735 GMT) the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 26.06 points, or 0.14 percent, at 19,123.96.

The S&P 500 was up 5.21 points, or 0.24 percent, at 2,206.93, about 7 points away from its record.

The Nasdaq Composite was up 26.85 points, or 0.5 percent, at 5,395.66. It had hit a record of 5403.86.

The gains were tempered by a sharp fall in oil prices that weighed on energy shares.

Oil fell nearly 4 percent on signs that leading oil exporters were struggling to agree on a deal to cut production ahead of an OPEC meeting on Wednesday.

All but two of the S&P energy sector’s components were in the red. Chevron declined 1.5 percent and Exxon slipped 0.8 percent.

“You’re seeing oil, both in terms of the physical commodity as well as energy equities, under pressure today and this is on the back of increased skepticism surrounding the likelihood of OPEC reaching any type of consensus tomorrow,” said Marcelle Daher, co-head of North American asset allocation at John Hancock Financial Services.

U.S. stocks closed lower on Monday in their worst showing in nearly a month as investors booked profits on the heels of a record-setting week.

Wall Street has rallied since Donald Trump’s victory in the presidential election as investors expect his plans to increase infrastructure spending, cut corporate taxes and reduce regulation to boost the economy.

Tiffany was up 4.2 percent at $81.58, making it the second biggest percentage gainer on the S&P, after the jeweler reported its first rise in sales in eight quarters.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by 1,456 to 1,412. On the Nasdaq, 1,445 issues rose and 1,294 fell.

The S&P 500 index showed 21 new 52-week highs and no new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 128 new highs and 18 new lows. (Reporting by Tanya Agrawal; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty and Savio D’Souza)

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