US STOCKS-S&P down slightly, led by energy and financials; Dow, Nasdaq up
* Financial stocks hit by fading rate hike prospects
* Dow up 0.07 pct, S&P down 0.02 pct, Nasdaq up 0.35 pct (Updates to late afternoon, adds commentary, changes byline)
By Sinead Carew
Oct 9 (Reuters) - The S&P 500 was down slightly on Friday as investors paused after several days of gains, led by declines in the energy sector as oil prices were largely unchanged.
The S&P financial sector was the second biggest decliner as investors bet the Federal Reserve would not be inclined to raise interest rates soon. Bank profits would benefit from a rate hike.
Investors saw further signs of dovishness in the release on Thursday of minutes from the Fed's September meeting, which showed that policymakers decided to hold interest rates steady as they sought evidence a global economic slowdown would not knock the U.S. economy off course.
New York Fed President William Dudley on Friday told CNBC that the Fed could hike rates this year, though it was not a commitment and the move will depend on economic data. The central bank has two remaining policy meetings this year, on Oct. 27-28 and Dec. 15-16.
U.S. stocks ended higher on Thursday after the Fed minutes were released, putting the S&P 500 on track for its best week this year, even after the Friday afternoon dip.
"We've had a super run," said Jon Merriman, chief executive officer at Merriman Holdings Inc in San Francisco. "You had sentiment that was extremely bad eight days ago. Sentiment has become more optimistic. That signals that it's time for the market to roll over." Continuación...