* Verizon up on broker upgrade, Wal-Mart falls on rating cut
* Merck, Bristol Myers drop on Roche cancer drug trial win
* Dow up 0.36 pct, S&P 0.10 pct higher, Nasdaq flat (Updates to early afternoon)
By Sruthi Shankar
Nov 20 (Reuters) - A rebound in industrials pushed the Dow Jones Industrial Average higher on Monday, while the technology-led gains in the S&P 500 and Nasdaq were kept in check by declines in healthcare stocks.
With no major earnings or economic data scheduled this week, trading volumes are expected to thin leading up to the Thanksgiving holiday on Thursday and an early market close on Friday.
“Wall Street is looking for the next catalyst to move higher,” said Brent Schutte, chief investment strategist for Northwestern Mutual Wealth Management Co in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
“And right now, the one that’s on the docket is tax reform. But the question is how much longer can we go higher and how much longer can the cycle last, and tax reform plays an impact in that.”
The U.S. House of Representatives passed their version of a tax bill last week. But the Senate, from which it has already faced resistance, is expected to vote on their version of the bill after Thanksgiving.
At 12:31 a.m. ET (1631 GMT), the Dow was up 0.36 percent at 23,443.26. The S&P was up 2.69 points, or 0.10 percent, at 2,581.54 and the Nasdaq Composite was up 0.17 points, or flat percent-wise, at 6,782.96.
Seven of the 11 major S&P indexes were higher. The gains were led by the telecoms index, which rose after Verizon gained 1.16 percent following a Wells Fargo upgrade.
The industrial sector, down in each of the past four weeks, was up about 0.5 percent.
“You’re seeing is some rotation within sectors, with no specific action (in any sector) to pin point,” said Ken Polcari, director of the NYSE floor division at O’Neil Securities in New York.”
The technology index got a boost from a 1.13 percent gain in semiconductor stocks on the back of merger news.
Cavium jumped 10 percent after larger rival Marvell said it would buy the company for about $6 billion. Marvell shares were up 5.3 percent.
Health stocks were weighed down by a 2.3 percent drop in Merck and 1.4 percent fall in Bristol-Myers after Roche announced positive trial results for a competing cancer drug.
Energy stocks slipped along with a 1 percent drop in oil prices as caution prevailed ahead of next week’s OPEC meeting and a rallying dollar added pressure.
Wal-Mart fell 1.2 percent after Goldman Sachs cut its rating on the stock to “neutral” from “buy”.
Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by 1,628 to 1,228. On the Nasdaq, 1,574 issues rose and 1,233 fell. (Reporting by Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Savio D’Souza)