* US crude at 15-month highs on surprise drop in stockpiles
* Morgan Stanley rounds off strong quarter for big banks
* Intel drags on major indexes after disappointing forecast
* Indexes up: Dow 0.41 pct, S&P 0.29 pct, Nasdaq 0.04 pct
(Updates to early afternoon)
By Yashaswini Swamynathan
Oct 19 (Reuters) - Wall Street was on track for its second
straight day of gains on Wednesday as oil prices boosted energy
stocks and financials got a lift after Morgan Stanley rounded
off a strong quarter for big U.S. banks.
However, gains, especially on the Nasdaq, were limited by
Intel. The chipmaker tumbled 6 percent, weighing the
most on major indexes, after its disappointing revenue forecast.
The chip index dipped 0.54 percent.
U.S. crude prices surged 3 percent to a 15-month high after
a report showed an unexpected drop in U.S. crude stockpiles.
The energy sector jumped 1.74 percent, the most in
three weeks, also boosted by a 4.8 percent rise in Halliburton
following its surprise quarterly profit.
Morgan Stanley inched up 0.8 percent after its
results. The financial sector has gained 1.8 percent in
the past four trading days as the banks reported, while the KBW
bank index is up nearly 3 percent.
Now, about 80 percent of the 70 S&P 500 companies that have
reported so far have beaten earnings' expectations, increasing
the likelihood of snapping a four-quarter earnings recession.
Analysts now estimate earnings increased 0.5 percent in the
third quarter, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
"We would see the third quarter as the bottoming out of the
earnings recession that we have been experiencing for the last
year or so," said Tracy Maeter, global investment specialist,
J.P. Morgan Private Bank in Philadelphia.
At 12:27 p.m. ET (1627 GMT), the Dow Jones Industrial
Average was up 74.79 points, or 0.41 percent, at
The S&P 500 was up 6.16 points, or 0.29 percent, at
2,145.76 and the Nasdaq Composite was up 2.25 points, or
0.04 percent, at 5,246.08.
Eight of the 11 major S&P sectors were higher. The consumer
staples' 0.7 percent drop was the steepest.
The Federal Reserve is due to release its Beige Book at
about 2:00 p.m. ET, giving anecdotal commentary on the health of
the U.S. economy.
The third and final U.S. presidential debate between Donald
Trump and Hillary Clinton starts later in the day. The stock
market had gained on both days after the previous two debates,
which were perceived to be won by Clinton.
"The noise in the marketplace around politics can drive
stocks in the short term, but in terms of the underlying
influence ... that's going to be driven more by the economy and
the profitability of companies," Maeter said.
Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by 2,178
to 721. On the Nasdaq, 1,637 issues rose and 1,008 fell.
The S&P 500 index showed eight new 52-week highs and two new
lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 45 new highs and 44 new lows.
(Reporting by Yashaswini Swamynathan in Bengaluru; Editing by