(Updates to morning trading)
By Rodrigo Campos
NEW YORK, Sept 18 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks were higher in morning trading on Thursday, with the S&P 500 brushing against resistance at a record peak, a day after the U.S. Federal Reserve renewed its commitment to keeping interest rates low.
The Fed said Wednesday at the conclusion of a two-day policy meeting it would keep interest rates near zero for a "considerable time," language supportive of equities which had been expected by some to be dropped from the statement.
The Dow industrials closed Wednesday at a record high with the S&P coming within a point of its intraday record.
"The Dow made an all-time high and then pulled back which is typical of the way the market has been making new records, and that's likely to be the case with the S&P 500," said Bruce Zaro, chief technical strategist at Delta Global Asset Management in Boston.
"Today the S&P could make a nominal (intraday) new high, though I don't think it is important that it closes at a record."
The Dow Jones industrial average was rising 58.22 points, or 0.34 percent, to 17,215.07, the S&P 500 was gaining 6.13 points, or 0.31 percent, to 2,007.7 and the Nasdaq Composite was adding 19.01 points, or 0.42 percent, to 4,581.20.
The largest percentage gainer on the New York Stock Exchange was Penn West Petroleum, up 11.54 percent, while the largest decliner was Pier 1 Imports, down 17.57 percent a day after it slashed its full-year earnings forecast.
Among the most active stocks on the NYSE were Rite Aid Corp , down 13.70 percent to $5.73 after it cut its full-year profit forecast for a second time this year; Bank of America , up 1.13 percent to $16.96, and General Electric, up 0.88 percent to $26.28.
On the Nasdaq, Yahoo, up 0.7 percent to $42.89; Vivus Inc, up 9.0 percent to $4.23, and Apple, up 0.5 percent to $102.10, were among the most actively traded.
Vivus rose after an erectile-dysfunction drug it co-developed was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Advancing issues were outnumbering declining ones on the NYSE by 1,655 to 1,067, for a 1.55-to-1 ratio; on the Nasdaq, 1,532 issues were rising and 750 falling for a 2.04-to-1 ratio.
The broad S&P 500 index was posting 31 new 52-week highs and 6 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite was recording 34 new highs and 19 new lows.
U.S. housing starts and permits fell in August, but upward revisions to the prior month's data suggested the housing market continued to gradually improve. Separate data showing a sharp drop in the number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits last week suggested the slowdown in job growth last month was probably an aberration. (Editing by Bernadette Baum)