(Corrects paragraph four to reflect that 85 pct of traders expect a 25 basis point rate hike)
* Energy, technology sectors provide biggest boosts
* Health investors look to conference presentations
* Bluebird Bio-Celgene CAR-T drug receives positive response
* Cryptocurrency related stocks bounce after bitcoin futures debut
* Indexes up: Dow 0.13 pct, S&P 0.23 pct, Nasdaq 0.46 pct
By Sinead Carew
NEW YORK, Dec 11 (Reuters) - Wall Street indexes were higher on Monday with boosts from technology and energy sectors as oil prices rose while investors prepared for an expected U.S. Federal Reserve rate hike later in the week.
The equity market appeared to shrug off an explosion at one of New York’s busiest commuter hubs early on Monday morning that officials called an attempted terrorist attack. The suspect wounded himself and three others.
“There has been some relief the terrorist attack wasn’t worse,” said Mark Heppenstall, CIO at Penn Mutual Asset Management Horsham, Pennsylvania.
Traders, waiting for the Fed’s two-day rate setting meeting to begin on Tuesday, see a 85 percent probability for a 25 basis point hike to the Fed funds rate target - the third rate hike this year, according to CME Group’s Fedwatch tool.
“The grind higher continues. The Fed is a virtual certainty to tighten this week but that is totally priced in by the market,” said Heppenstall. “Valuations are getting to the point where even good news on the economy might pose some additional risks to the market. There’s the risk that good news for the economy may be bad news for markets because the Fed is at the cusp of a level of tightening that could dampen growth.”
At 2:38 p.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 31.57 points, or 0.13 percent, to 24,360.73, the S&P 500 gained 6.14 points, or 0.23 percent, to 2,657.64 and the Nasdaq Composite added 31.59 points, or 0.46 percent, to 6,871.67.
Seven of the 11 major S&P sectors were higher, with the biggest boost coming from the information technology sector with a 0.74 percent gain. The S&P energy index was up 0.7 percent as oil prices rose after a North Sea pipeline shut for repairs and some investors focused on commodities following the explosion in New York.
Financial, consumer staple and industrial stocks were the biggest losers.
CenturyLink was the biggest S&P 500 percentage gainer, rising about 9 percent after the telecom provider signed a 5-year contract with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
Healthcare investors focused on makers of drugs for blood disorders after clinical data presentations at the annual American Society of Hematology four-day meeting in Atlanta.
Shares of Bluebird Bio were last up 19 percent at $203.75 after hitting a record high of $222.03 following news of positive responses in an early stage myeloma study of its experimental gene-modifying immunotherapy drug co-developed with Celgene. Celgene’s shares were up 1.97 percent.
Interest in the surge in digital currency bitcoin and the opening of futures trading in the cryptocurrency continued to fuel bets on related stocks, many of which have risen sharply in the past three months.
Shares of Marathon Patent was up 27 percent while Xunlei was up 18 percent. Riot Blockchain rose about 37 percent.
Bitcoin futures soared in their U.S. debut on Sunday, which backers hope will encourage wider use and give legitimacy to cryptocurrency.
Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 1.13-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.06-to-1 ratio favored decliners. (Additional reporting by Sruthi Shankar and Rama Venkat Raman in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur and Chizu Nomiyama)