* Oil trades near strongest levels since mid-2015
* Media, retail stocks rise after positive broker recommendations
* Casino stocks hit by downbeat December gambling revenue
* Indexes up: Dow 0.2 pct, S&P 0.62 pct, Nasdaq 1.2 pct (Updates to early afternoon)
By Sruthi Shankar
Jan 2 (Reuters) - Wall Street’s major indexes were higher on the first trading session of 2018 on Tuesday, driven by gains in technology and consumer discretionary stocks, setting the stage for another robust year for equities.
Major stock indexes closed out 2017 with their best performances since 2013 and the rally is widely expected to continue this year, helped by a cut in corporate taxes that is anticipated to boost profits as well as the economy.
“It is seasonally a very good time for equities as new money comes into work,” said John Brady, senior vice president at futures brokerage R.J. O’Brien & Associates in Chicago.
“It seems as if most economists have raised their GDP forecasts for 2018, and we’re going to get some form of a fiscal stimulus into an economy that has a tight labor market. The market is pricing all of this in.”
Gains in Apple, Facebook, Alphabet and Microsoft pulled the technology index higher by about 1 percent, following a 37 percent surge in 2017 that made it the best performing S&P sector.
“People are back to looking at what have been the winners,” said Rick Meckler, president of hedge fund LibertyView Capital Management LLC in Jersey City, New Jersey.
The S&P consumer discretionary index was up 1.35 percent, boosted by a 1.4 percent gain in Amazon and a 3 percent increase in Walt Disney.
Disney, Netflix and Discovery Communications climbed following brokerage Macquire’s upgrade to “outperform”.
J.C. Penney, Nordstrom and Kohl’s climbed after a bullish note on the retail sector by Citigroup detailed the benefits from the corporate tax cuts.
Oil prices dipped but hovered near their mid-2015 highs amid large anti-government rallies in major exporter Iran and ongoing supply cuts led by OPEC and Russia.
Gold and copper prices extended their gains, but the greenback began the year on the back foot, with the dollar index slipping to its weakest level since September.
At 12:28 p.m. ET (1728 GMT), the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 49.97 points, or 0.2 percent, at 24,769.19 and the S&P 500 was up 16.7 points, or 0.62 percent, at 2,690.31. The Nasdaq Composite was up 82.61 points, or 1.2 percent, at 6,986.00.
Shares of casino operators Wynn Resorts and Melco Resorts & Entertainment were down more than 2 percent after a report showed lower-than-expected rise in Macau gambling revenue in December.
Abbott Labs jumped more than 3 percent to a record $59.02 after two brokerages upgraded the company’s stock to “overweight”.
Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by 1,786 to 1,073. On the Nasdaq, 2,019 issues rose and 902 fell. (Reporting by Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila)