* Fed statement at 2 p.m. ET; Yellen conference at 2:30 p.m.
* Weekly mortgage application falls 5.5. pct
* Dow, Nasdaq lower for the month
* Indexes up: Dow 0.2 pct, S&P 0.2 pct, Nasdaq 0.3 pct (Adds details, changes comment, updates prices)
By Tanya Agrawal
June 17 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks were marginally higher on Wednesday as investors await a Federal Reserve statement that could provide hints on the timing of a rate hike.
The Dow and the S&P 500, however, were lower for the month.
Investors will scour the statement for any signs of when the Fed is likely to begin raising interest rates and the pace of any subsequent hikes.
The Fed statement is due at 2:00 p.m. ET (1800 GMT), followed by Chair Janet Yellen’s news conference half an hour later, with analysts expecting her to focus on signs the economy is recovering after a bumpy start to the year.
Many investors expect the Fed to signal that U.S. interest rates will be increased in September.
“The Fed will send out another message which lays down the groundwork for a rate rise in August or September,” said Andrew Barber, chief market strategist at Eagleview Capital in Delaware.
“The market is expecting a rate rise this year and it won’t change a thing from an investment standpoint. It is much ado about nothing.”
Stock markets had reached record highs after the financial crisis, helped by the Fed’s easy monetary policy, but have traded in a narrow-range this year as investors look for more clarity on the Fed’s decision to raise rates for the first time since June 2006.
Applications for U.S. home mortgages fell last week as interest rates rose to their highest since October 2014, an industry group said on Wednesday. Mortgage application activity, which includes both refinancing and home purchase demand, fell 5.5 percent in the week ended June 12.
Worries about Greece were pushed to the background even as the country neared a debt default.
Athens needs funds to avoid defaulting on a 1.6 billion euro ($1.8 billion) debt repayment to the International Monetary Fund on June 30, which could drive it out of the euro zone.
At 11:10 a.m. ET the Dow Jones industrial average was up 38.23 points, or 0.21 percent, at 17,942.71, the S&P 500 was up 3.94 points, or 0.19 percent, at 2,100.23 and the Nasdaq Composite was up 13.59 points, or 0.27 percent, at 5,069.14.
Eight of the 10 major S&P 500 sectors were higher, with the utilities index leading the advances, with a 0.9 percent rise.
Kythera Biopharmaceuticals’ shares rose 22.3 percent to $74.19 after the company said it will be bought by Allergan in a cash-and-stock deal valued at $2.1 billion. Allegran inched up 0.5 percent to $299.69.
FedEx fell 2.8 percent to $176.94 after the package delivery firm reported a quarterly net loss weighed by pension costs, a stronger dollar and lower fuel surcharges.
Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by 1,546 to 1,292. On the Nasdaq, 1,418 issues rose and 1,103 fell.
Fourteen stocks hit a 52-week high and no new lows; the Nasdaq Composite was recording 115 new highs and 11 new lows. (Editing by Don Sebastian)