* Fed minutes suggest concern about raising rates too soon
* Exxon down after news of refinery explosion
* Dow down 0.2 pct; S&P 500 down 0.2 pct, Nasdaq down 0.1 pct (Updates to after Fed minutes)
By Caroline Valetkevitch
NEW YORK, Feb 18 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks were down slightly on Wednesday, briefly trimming losses after minutes from the latest Federal Reserve meeting showed concern from policymakers about raising interest rates too soon.
Fed policymakers expressed concern last month that raising interest rates too soon could pour cold water on the U.S. economic recovery, and fretted over the impact of dropping “patient” from the central bank’s interest rate guidance.
“I think it’s probably much more dovish than anybody anticipated, that’s for sure. I think June is going to be hard for them to move, but that’s not to say they won‘t,” said Greg Peters, senior investment officer at Prudential Fixed Income in Newark, New Jersey.
An index of S&P 500 utilities was up 2.1 percent and the biggest positive in the S&P 500 as bond yields declined.
Energy shares were the biggest drag, led by Exxon Mobil , which fell 2.5 percent to $90.68 following news of an explosion and fire at an Exxon refinery near Los Angeles.
At 2:27 p.m., the Dow Jones industrial average fell 37.51 points, or 0.21 percent, to 18,010.07, the S&P 500 lost 4.45 points, or 0.21 percent, to 2,095.89 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 4.01 points, or 0.08 percent, to 4,895.26.
Investors also weighed developments involving Greece. The European Central Bank agreed to raise the emergency funding available to Greek banks, a slight increase on the previous limit, a person familiar with the ECB talks said. The move is likely to give Athens some leeway while it tries to negotiate a financing deal with European partners.
Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by 1,557 to 1,480, for a 1.05-to-1 ratio; on the Nasdaq, 1,402 issues fell and 1,281 advanced for a 1.09-to-1 ratio favoring decliners.
The S&P 500 was posting 52 new 52-week highs and 2 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite was recording 69 new highs and 23 new lows. (Additional reporting by Jennifer Ablan, Editing by Nick Zieminski)