* Crude falls 2 pct
* Jobless claims down more than expected last week
* Valeant up after securing waivers to credit facility
* Indexes down: Dow 0.9 pct, S&P 0.94 pct, Nasdaq 1.15 pct (Adds details, changes comment, updates prices)
By Abhiram Nandakumar
April 7 (Reuters) - Wall Street was lower on Thursday as oil prices slid and minutes from the U.S. Federal Reserve’s meeting sparked fresh worries about the risks from a weakening global economy.
Crude fell 2 percent as a rise in Iraqi exports offset gains from an unexpected fall in U.S. inventories. Exxon fell 1.2 percent.
The central bank’s caution put pressure on the dollar as investors sought safety in the yen and gold.
Minutes from the Fed’s March meeting released on Wednesday pointed to concerns about the central bank’s limited ability to tackle a global economic slowdown, reducing the odds of a rate increase before June.
While the Fed has projected two rate increases this year, the market is pricing in a near 60-percent chance of a hike in December, according to CME Group’s FedWatch Program.
“Today, the yen is really the name of the game, because there’s indications that Japan might not really be able to escape that funk that it’s in,” said Jeff Weniger, senior portfolio strategist at BMO Private Bank in Chicago.
First-quarter earnings at S&P 500 companies are expected to decline 7.4 percent, according to Thomson Reuters data.
At 11:31 a.m. ET the Dow Jones industrial average was down 160.22 points, or 0.9 percent, at 17,555.83, the S&P 500 was down 19.37 points, or 0.94 percent, at 2,047.29 and the Nasdaq Composite was down 56.38 points, or 1.15 percent, at 4,864.34.
Nine of the 10 major S&P sectors were lower, led by a 1.65 percent fall in the telecom sector. Verizon led the selloff in the sector, falling 2.6 percent to $52.12, after Jefferies and Bernstein cut their ratings on the stock.
Apple’s 1.2 percent decline to $109.66 weighed the most on the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq. Goldman Sachs was the biggest drag on the Dow, slipping 2.2 percent to $151.72.
Fed Chair Janet Yellen, who has urged caution on raising rates, is slated to speak on monetary policy along with three former central bank chairmen in New York later in the day.
Data showed U.S. jobless claims fell more than expected last week, suggesting the labor market continued to strengthen despite tepid economic growth.
Among the bright spots, Valeant Pharmaceuticals rose 10.2 percent at $37.66 after the company got approval from its lenders for an amendment and waiver to its credit facility.
Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by 2,267 to 635. On the Nasdaq, 1,907 issues fell and 704 advanced.
The S&P 500 index showed seven new 52-week highs and one new low, while the Nasdaq recorded 14 new highs and 11 new lows. (Reporting by Abhiram Nandakumar in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D‘Silva)