US STOCKS-Wall St edges higher as investors look past Middle East tensions

Caroline Valetkevitch

(Updates to late afternoon)

* Energy index rises as crude climbs

* Alphabet jumps on bullish brokerage recommendation

* Indexes: Dow flat, S&P up 0.2%, Nasdaq gains 0.4% (For a live blog on the U.S. stock market, click or type LIVE/ in a news window)

NEW YORK, Jan 6 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks were higher in afternoon trading on Monday as investors brushed aside worries about rising tensions in the Middle East and as shares of Amazon and Alphabet gained.

The S&P 500 energy index rose along with oil prices after the recent U.S. air strike that killed Iran's top military commander, raising the threat of a new conflagration in the Middle East.

Top Internet companies gained, boosting the S&P 500 and Nasdaq. Alphabet rose 2.1% after Pivotal Research upgraded the stock to "buy."

For now, the market is mostly discounting the situation in the Middle East, said Paul Nolte, portfolio manager at Kingsview Investment Management in Chicago.

"It's more jawboning than" actual fighting so far, he said.

Stock investors have been cautious following Friday's airstrike.

Among the biggest decliners have been some of 2019's star performers including chipmakers. The Philadelphia semiconductor index, which surged about 60% last year, was down 1.1%.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 1.18 points to 28,636.06, the S&P 500 gained 6.26 points, or 0.19%, to 3,241.11 and the Nasdaq Composite added 33.71 points, or 0.37%, to 9,054.48.

Boeing Co fell 0.2%. A Wall Street Journal report said the planemaker was considering plans to raise more debt to bolster its finances after the grounding of its 737 MAX jet.

The communication services index was among the top gainers among the major S&P subsectors, up 1%. (Additional reporting by Sruthi Shankar and Medha Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila and Sonya Hepinstall)