* U.S. durable goods orders surge, business spending weak
* Oil prices test $50 a barrel
* Abercrombie slumps after sales fall for 13th straight quarter
* Indexes down: Dow 0.18 pct, S&P 0.06 pct, Nasdaq 0.01 pct (Updates to early afternoon)
By Ankur Banerjee
May 26 (Reuters) - Wall Street was slightly lower on Thursday as material stocks fell and after oil struggled to stay above the psychologically important $50-per-barrel mark.
Oil has rallied in recent weeks as wildfires in Canada and unrest in Nigeria and Libya brought a faster-than-expected recovery to an oversupplied market.
“The global surplus still exists and there is still a possibility that oil prices could retrace further,” said Dominick Chirichella, senior partner at the Energy Management Institute in New York.
Data on Thursday showed that while orders for U.S. durable goods surged in April, business spending plans continued to show weakness, suggesting the manufacturing rout was far from over.
Manufacturing, which accounts for 12 percent of the economy, is struggling with the lingering effects of the dollar’s past surge and sluggish overseas demand.
Despite persistent weakness in business spending, the steady stream of fairly upbeat reports could give the Federal Reserve ammunition to raise interest rates again next month.
Comments from policymakers and upbeat U.S. economic data in recent days have supported those views.
A U.S. rate hike may come “fairly soon” if data confirms the economy is continuing to grow and labor markets are still tightening, Federal Reserve Governor Jerome Powell said on Thursday.
At 12:38 p.m. ET (1638 GMT) the Dow Jones industrial average was down 32.39 points, or 0.18 percent, at 17,819.12, the S&P 500 index was down 1.35 points, or 0.06 percent, at 2,089.19 and the Nasdaq composite index was down 0.34 points, or 0.01 percent, at 4,894.55.
Seven of the 10 major S&P sectors were lower, with the materials index’s 0.93 percent fall leading the decliners. Dupont and Dow Chemical were both down about 0.40 percent.
Discount retailers Dollar General and Dollar Tree hit record highs after reporting better-than-expected quarterly profits.
Abercrombie & Fitch shares slumped 16 percent to $21.09 after posting its 13th straight quarter of sales decline, becoming another example of a depressed apparel market.
Costco Wholesale shares were up 6 percent at $153.18 after their quarterly earnings.
Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by 1,452 to 1,445. On the Nasdaq, 1,464 issues fell and 1,198 advanced.
The S&P 500 index showed 20 new 52-week highs and one new low, while the Nasdaq recorded 45 new highs and 18 new lows. (Reporting by Ankur Banerjee in Bengaluru,; Additional reporting by Mamidipudi Soumithri; Editing by Anil D‘Silva)