February 16, 2018 / 5:08 PM / 8 months ago

US STOCKS-Wall St on course for sixth day of gains

* Jan. homebuilding data jumps to more than 1-year high

* Indexes up: Dow 0.36 pct, S&P 0.29 pct, Nasdaq 0.19 pct

* S&P, Nasdaq set for best week since December 2011

* Healthcare stocks lead gainers on S&P, Dow (Changes comment, adds details, updates prices)

By Sruthi Shankar

Feb 16 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks rose on Friday, led by gains in technology and healthcare stocks, putting the main indexes on course for strong weekly gains as they bounced back from a brutal selloff earlier this month.

The indexes have closed higher for the last five days allaying fears of rising inflation and faster interest rate hikes that were the main triggers for the stock market rout.

Apple rose 0.8 percent and Cisco gained 2 percent, the biggest drivers on the S&P technology index , while gains in J&J and AbbVie propped up the healthcare sector.

The S&P and the Nasdaq are set for their best week since December 2011, while the Dow is on track for its best week since November 2016.

"The market seems to be slowly rebuilding the position," said Rick Meckler, president of investment firm LibertyView Capital Management in Jersey City, New Jersey. "That said, interest rates are climbing and there is a real competition for stocks."

The market's pullback from last week's sell-off has been accompanied by low volatility, encouraging economic data and corporate reports.

While the CBOE volatility index dropped to 18.35 points on Friday, well below the 50-point peak it hit last week, data showed homebuilding increased to more than a one-year high in January and the University of Michigan's consumer sentiment index rose to 99.9 compared with the estimate of 95.5.

On the earnings front, nearly 77 percent of the S&P 500 companies that have reported fourth-quarter results so far have topped profit estimates, above the 72 percent average of the past four quarters.

At 11:05 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 90.56 points, or 0.36 percent, at 25,290.93 and the S&P 500 was up 7.86 points, or 0.29 percent, at 2,739.06.

The Nasdaq Composite index was up 13.86 points, or 0.19 percent, at 7,270.29.

Kraft Heinz dropped about 5 percent after the company's quarterly profit and sales missed analysts' estimates.

VF Corp fell 9 percent after the apparel and footwear maker reported quarterly profit and revenue slightly below analysts' estimates.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by 1,854 to 922. On the Nasdaq, 1,767 issues rose and 1,004 fell. (Reporting by Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Savio D'Souza and Saumyadeb Chakrabarty)

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