* Banks lead major S&P sectors
* Alphabet falls after YouTube ad row; top drag on S&P,
* Accenture falls after quarterly profit slips
* Indexes up: Dow 0.41 pct, S&P 0.37 pct, Nasdaq 0.28 pct
(Updates to early afternoon)
By Tanya Agrawal
March 23 U.S. stocks rose in early afternoon
trading on Thursday as investors snapped up beaten-down bank
stocks ahead of a vote on a healthcare bill that is seen as
President Donald Trump's first policy test.
Failure to pass the legislation, called the American Health
Care Act, would cast doubt on Trump's ability to deliver other
parts of his agenda that need the cooperation of the
Republican-controlled Congress, including ambitious plans to
overhaul the tax code and invest in infrastructure.
The House vote had been expected by about 7 p.m ET (2300
GMT) but there were signs the deadline could be pushed back.
"There's been a lot of optimism regarding the Trump
administration so this could very well be the first setback,"
said Erik Davidson, chief investment officer at Wells Fargo
Private Bank in San Francisco.
"What the market wants is to get through the healthcare
question so that we can move on to tax reform."
The S&P 500 has gained 10 percent since the election,
spurred mainly by Trump's campaign promises to enact legislation
that are seen as pro-business.
The benchmark index is trading at about 18 times expected
forward earnings, compared with a 10-year average of 14,
according to Thomson Reuters data.
At 12:45 p.m. ET the Dow Jones Industrial Average was
up 83.9 points, or 0.41 percent, at 20,745.2, the S&P 500
was up 8.91 points, or 0.37 percent, at 2,357.36.
The Nasdaq Composite was up 16.20 points, or 0.28
percent, at 5,837.84.
Ten of the 11 major S&P indexes were higher, with the
financial index's 1 percent rise leading the advancers.
The sector, which had its worst one-day fall since June on
Tuesday, has risen the most since the election.
Bank of America's 1.6 percent rise lifted the S&P,
while Goldman Sachs' 1.1 percent increase helped push the
Google-parent Alphabet fell 1.1 percent to $840.09
as more firms pull YouTube ads on fears they may have appeared
alongside offensive videos. The stock was the biggest drag on
the S&P and the Nasdaq.
Five Below rose 12.1 percent to $42.73 after the
retailer's quarterly earnings beat estimates.
Accenture fell 3.8 percent to $121.66 after the
consulting and outsourcing services provider's quarterly profit
Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by 2,266
to 608. On the Nasdaq, 2,011 issues rose and 746 fell.
The S&P 500 index showed 14 new 52-week highs and one new
low, while the Nasdaq recorded 43 new highs and 33 new lows.
(Reporting by Tanya Agrawal in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil