August 28, 2017 / 2:04 PM / a year ago

US STOCKS-Wall St edges up as health, home improvement chains climb

* Dollar falls to 16-month low before recovering slightly

* Kite Pharma soars after $11.9 bln deal with Gilead

* Home Depot, Lowe’s up on hopes of post-Harvey gains

* Indexes up: Dow 0.08 pct, S&P 0.18 pct, Nasdaq 0.21 pct (Updates to open)

By Sruthi Shankar and Tanya Agrawal

Aug 28 (Reuters) - Wall Street opened slightly higher on Monday, driven by gains in health and home improvement retailers’ shares, while investors assessed the impact of Tropical Storm Harvey on the U.S. economy.

Shares of insurers were down, as Harvey was set to dump more rain on Houston on Monday, worsening the flooding that has paralyzed the country’s energy hub.

Harvey, the most powerful hurricane to strike Texas in more than 50 years, has knocked out a quarter of oil production from the Gulf of Mexico, prompting fears it could overturn years of excess U.S. oil capacity and low prices.

U.S. crude futures, which earlier hit two-year highs, dipped more than 1 percent to $47.38 over concerns that refinery shutdowns could reduce demand for American crude.

However, Home Depot was up 1.34 percent, boosting the Dow, while Lowe’s rose 2 percent as the two largest U.S. home improvement chains could be among the biggest beneficiaries of post-Harvey recovery.

“The unfortunate event from Hurricane Harvey will have some sort of impact on the numbers, down the line ... at this point, it does not appear to affect equities,” said Andre Bakhos, managing director at Janlyn Capital.

U.S. economic growth had more than halved in the quarter after Hurricane Katrina mauled Louisiana in August 2005.

“The Wall Street population is thinner than usual, and we’ve had no fresh news of any type, whether it’s on the geopolitical front or from the administration, that has materially impacted traders’ outlook,” said Bakhos.

At 9:41 a.m. ET (1341 GMT), the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 18.34 points, or 0.08 percent, at 21,832.01, the S&P 500 was up 4.48 points, or 0.18 percent, at 2,447.53.

The Nasdaq Composite was up 12.88 points, or 0.21 percent, at 6,278.52.

Ten of the 11 major S&P sectors were higher, with the health index’s 0.51 percent rise leading the advancers.

Shares of Kite Pharmaceuticals soared 28.94 percent after Gilead Sciences agreed to buy the immunotherapy developer in an all-cash deal valued at $11.9 billion. Shares of Gilead gained 1.65 percent.

The dollar index fell to as low as 92.372, its weakest since early May 2016, before recovering to trade down 0.34 percent at around 92.42.

The currency has been under pressure since Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen stayed silent on monetary policy in a much-anticipated speech on Friday.

Among stocks, Marathon Oil, Valero Energy were up about 2 percent. Oil majors Exxon inched up 0.13 percent and Chevron rose 0.22 percent.

Insurers Travelers, Allstate and Progressive were all down more than 2 percent.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by 1,717 to 790. On the Nasdaq, 1,428 issues rose and 885 fell. (Reporting by Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila)

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