* US crude touches 15-month highs on surprise stockpile drop
* Morgan Stanley rounds off strong quarter for big banks
* Intel drags on major indexes after disappointing forecast
* Indexes up: Dow 0.39 pct, S&P 0.33 pct, Nasdaq 0.11 pct
(Adds Beige Book, changes byline)
By Chuck Mikolajczak
NEW YORK, Oct 19 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks were on track for
its second straight advance on Wednesday, as a climb in oil
prices buoyed the energy sector and earnings from Morgan Stanley
helped lift financials.
Oil prices were up more than 2 percent, with U.S. crude
touching a 15-month high after the government reported a sharp
drop in domestic inventories for the sixth week in seven.
The energy sector jumped 2 percent, the most in
three weeks, with a 5.2 percent rise in Halliburton also
providing a boost after the world's No.2 oilfield services
provider posted third-quarter results.
Morgan Stanley gained 1.8 percent after posting a
better-than-expected quarterly profit to round out a string of
solid results from big U.S. banks. The financial sector
has risen in three of the past four sessions for a 1.8 percent
"We've seen earnings kind of trough, we are going to see
better earnings and we are going to start to move from the
negative overall into the positive this quarter and next," said
Jeff Kravetz, regional investment director at the Private Client
Reserve at U.S. Bank in Phoenix, Arizona.
A disappointing revenue forecast from Intel capped
the advance on Wall Street, however. The chipmaker tumbled 6.1
percent as the biggest drag on each of the three major indexes.
The PHLX semiconductor index shed 0.45 percent.
With 70 companies in the S&P 500 having reported earnings
through Wednesday morning, 80 percent have topped earnings'
expectations. Analysts now estimate earnings increased 0.5
percent in the third quarter, according to Thomson Reuters
I/B/E/S, which would be the first quarter of growth in five.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 70.27 points,
or 0.39 percent, to 18,232.21, the S&P 500 gained 7.07
points, or 0.33 percent, to 2,146.67 and the Nasdaq Composite
added 5.86 points, or 0.11 percent, to 5,249.70.
The U.S. economy showed some signs of rising wage pressures
in September and early October but overall compensation growth
remained modest, the Federal Reserve said in its Beige Book
The third and final U.S. presidential debate between
Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton is set to
begin on Wednesday at 9 p.m. EDT (0100 GMT Thursday).
Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a
3.13-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.80-to-1 ratio favored advancers.
The S&P 500 posted 10 new 52-week highs and 2 new lows; the
Nasdaq Composite recorded 58 new highs and 48 new lows.
(Reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak; Editing by Frances Kerry)