* Fed says to keep “patient” approach on rates
* Energy shares track U.S. crude futures lower
* Apple posts largest corporate profit in history
* Indexes: Dow down 0.1 pct, S&P down 0.38 pct, Nasdaq flat (Updates market moves after Fed statement)
By Sinead Carew
NEW YORK, Jan 28 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks fell slightly in volatile trading on Wednesday after the Federal Reserve said the U.S. economy is on track and it will remain “patient” in deciding when to raise interest rates.
Concluding their first policy-setting meeting of the year, Fed officials looked past the urgent moves made by other central banks this month to boost their struggling economies and saw continued economic expansion in the United States.
“Being ‘patient’ means the Fed is in no hurry with respect to inflation or any other factor in the economy that it is watching. This isn’t surprising at all. The Fed was always more patient than other observers,” said Bruce McCain, chief investment strategist at Key Private Bank in Cleveland.
“I don’t think markets will move too much on this. The bigger issue is where the economy goes from here, and investors have been sobering up on that, as it becomes clear that we’re growing, but below historical levels,” he said.
At 2:31p.m., the Dow Jones industrial average fell 17.47 points, or 0.1 percent, to 17,369.74, the S&P 500 lost 7.63 points, or 0.38 percent, to 2,021.92 and the Nasdaq Composite added 1.15 points, or 0.02 percent, to 4,682.65.
The market had held up ahead of the statement by earnings from companies including Apple and Boeing, but a sharp drop in energy shares cut into gains, leaving indexes little changed.
The Nasdaq Composite outperformed, powered by a 7.7 percent advance in Apple shares. Apple smashed Wall Street expectations with record sales of big-screen iPhones in the holiday shopping season, which helped the company post the largest quarterly profit in corporate history.
Boeing added 6.6 percent after handily beating top- and bottom-line expectations.
But the energy sector of the S&P 500 was down 2.5 percent as U.S. crude futures tumbled. Barclays and Goldman Sachs posted bearish notes on oil.
Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by 1,822 to 1,199, for a 1.52-to-1 ratio; on the Nasdaq, 1,649 issues fell and 1,013 advanced, for a 1.63-to-1 ratio.
The S&P 500 was posting 58 new 52-week highs and 10 new lows; Nasdaq Composite was recording 72 new highs and 51 new lows. (Additional reporting by Ryan Vlastelica, Rodrigo Campos and Chuck Mikolajczak,; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Nick Zieminski)