* 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 0.11 pct, S&P down 0.37 pct, Nasdaq flat (Updates market, adds comment)
By Sinead Carew
NEW YORK, Jan 28 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks fell on Wednesday, driven by extended losses in the S&P 500 energy sector, after the Federal Reserve said 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.
While many market participants said they were unsurprised by the statement, Stephen Massocca, Chief Investment Officer of Wedbush Equity Management LLC in San Francisco said the Fed’s language looked slightly stronger in support of a rate hike.
“It was more hawkish than people thought. But you are counting grains of sand coming through the hourglass so I don’t think you will see it resonate much longer than what we’ve seen in the last hour or so,” Massocca said.
“I don’t think anyone is going to overreact here, but it was a surprising to me. I thought they would turn the dial 2 degrees and they turned it 6 degrees,” he said.
Bond prices rose after the statement, which may have put some pressure on stocks.
The Fed’s mention of international developments was “probably perceived as dovish” and causing the bond market to rally, said Jim O‘Sullivan, chief U.S. economist at High Frequency Economics in Valhalla, New York.
At 3:08 p.m., the Dow Jones industrial average fell 18.4 points, or 0.11 percent, to 17,368.81, the S&P 500 lost 7.59 points, or 0.37 percent, to 2,021.96 and the Nasdaq Composite added 2.57 points, or 0.05 percent, to 4,684.06.
The S&P energy sector was down 3 percent as U.S. crude futures tumbled. Barclays and Goldman Sachs posted bearish notes on oil.
The market had been boosted ahead of the Fed statement by earnings from companies including Apple and Boeing.
A 6.6 percent advance in Apple shares limited losses on the Nasdaq Composite. 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 percent after handily beating top- and bottom-line expectations.
Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by 1,953 to 1,113, for a 1.75-to-1 ratio; on the Nasdaq, 1,793 issues fell and 912 advanced, for a 1.97-to-1 ratio favoring decliners.
The S&P 500 was posting 58 new 52-week highs and 11 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite was recording 72 new highs and 56 new lows. (Additional reporting by Ryan Vlastelica, Rodrigo Campos, Chuck Mikolajczak, and Richard Leong; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama, Nick Zieminski)