* Fed statement points to economic weakness
* First-quarter GDP growth lower-than-expected
* Indexes down: Dow 0.2 pct, S&P 0.23 pct, Nasdaq 0.46 pct (Updates to after Fed statement)
By Caroline Valetkevitch
April 29 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks were down slightly on Wednesday after a Federal Reserve statement pointed to labor and other areas of U.S. economic weakness, suggesting it was in no rush to raise interest rates.
The central bank’s policy statement puts it on track to begin a meeting-by-meeting approach toward deciding when to raise rates, which would be the first hike since June 2006.
“We all know the Fed would love to start normalizing rates, but the simple fact is, the data does not warrant that action right now,” said Wayne Kaufman, chief market analyst at Phoenix Financial Services in New York.
Major indexes initially added to losses following the statement but then pared most of those declines to trade down slightly.
Earlier on Wednesday, data showed U.S. economic growth braked more sharply than expected in the first quarter as harsh weather put off shoppers and energy companies cut spending.
That, too, reinforced expectations for a gradual pace of rate rises by the Fed.
At 2:25 p.m., the Dow Jones industrial average fell 35.87 points, or 0.2 percent, to 18,074.27, the S&P 500 lost 4.86 points, or 0.23 percent, to 2,109.9 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 23.04 points, or 0.46 percent, to 5,032.39.
Energy, financials and materials sectors were higher, while the rest of the 10 S&P sectors were lower.
Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by 1,998 to 980, for a 2.04-to-1 ratio; on the Nasdaq, 1,719 issues fell and 970 advanced, for a 1.77-to-1 ratio favoring decliners.
The S&P 500 was posting 10 new 52-week highs and 1 new low; the Nasdaq Composite was recording 43 new highs and 45 new lows. (Additional reporting by Sinead Carew; Editing by Savio D‘Souza and Nick Zieminski)