4 Min Read
* Oil prices bounce off multi-month lows
* S&P healthcare index hits record high
* Oracle rises after upbeat forecast
* Graphic: S&P 500 vs S&P Energy: bit.ly/2suhqu6
* Indexes up: Dow 0.11 pct, S&P 0.15 pct, Nasdaq 0.24 pct (Updates to late afternoon, adds commentary, changes byline)
By Sinead Carew
June 22 (Reuters) - Wall Street's major indexes were slightly higher on Thursday, boosted by healthcare stocks after Republicans unveiled a bill to repeal Obamacare and oil prices rose from multi-month lows and relieved some pressure on energy stocks.
The S&P healthcare index was up 1.2 percent after hitting its fourth record high in a row following the release of the bill, which is aimed at curbing Medicaid funding and reshaping subsidies to low-income people for private insurance. The index has risen 4 percent in five sessions.
The Nasdaq biotechnology index rose 1 percent giving it an 9 percent jump for the week so far. Johnson & Johnson and Gilead were among the biggest boosts for the S&P 500 with 1 percent and 4.3 percent gains.
The rebound in the oil futures market pushed the S&P energy index up 0.22 percent after 3.5 percent of losses in the previous three sessions.
"Oil's had a tough run in the last handful of weeks. I wouldn't say oil being up today gives anybody a high degree of confidence we've seen a floor in oil yet," Michael Scanlon, managing director, portfolio manager at Manulife Asset Management in Boston.
Gains were muted on Thursday and investors looked forward to earnings, according to Scanlon.
"Going into this quarter you've had negative guidance out of the banks that the trading environment hasn't been so good. I think the market's going to be a bit more choppy over the next few weeks," he said. "Folks may be sitting on their hands a little as we head into the July 4th holiday and into earnings."
At 2:34 p.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 23.7 points, or 0.11 percent, to 21,433.73, the S&P 500 had gained 3.72 points, or 0.15 percent, to 2,439.33 and the Nasdaq Composite had added 14.71 points, or 0.24 percent, to 6,248.66.
Some investors were worried about the impact of low oil prices on inflation, which remains stubbornly below the Federal Reserve's 2 percent target even as it raises interest rates.
"Right now the bond market seems to be convinced that inflation is going to remain much lower than what the Fed thinks," Randy Frederick, vice president of trading and derivatives for Charles Schwab in Austin, Texas.
The S&P bank index was down 0.6 percent ahead of the release of the sector's annual stress test results after the market close on Thursday.
Economic data on Thursday showed jobless claims for last week increased by 3,000 to 241,000, but remain at levels consistent with a tight labor market.
Oracle, up 8.8 percent, provided the biggest boost to the S&P after the company forecast an upbeat current-quarter profit.
Among stocks, Accenture was off 4.5 percent after the consulting and outsourcing services provider trimmed its annual revenue forecast.
Tesla was up 2.2 percent at $384.56 after the company said it was in exploratory talks with the Shanghai municipal government to establish an electric vehicle manufacturing plant in China.
Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 1.81-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.72-to-1 ratio favored advancers. (Reporting by Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty and Chizu Nomiyama)