* Minutes of Fed’s Sept meeting released
* Energy sector leads advancers as oil rallies to 5-week high
* Indexes: Dow up 0.23 pct, S&P 0.19 pct, Nasdaq down 0.42 pct (Updates to late afternoon, adds commentary)
By Sinead Carew
Oct 8 (Reuters) - The S&P 500 and Dow indexes gained slightly and Nasdaq pared losses on Thursday after the Federal Reserve released minutes from its September meeting at which the U.S. central bank decided against raising interest rates for now.
The minutes showed that the Fed thought the economy was close to warranting an interest rate hike in September but decided it was prudent to wait for evidence a global economic slowdown was not knocking America off course.
“Overall it doesn’t sound like there were any bombshells there,” said Peter Jankovskis, co-chief investment officer at OakBrook Investments LLC in Lisle, Illinois, adding that the minutes gave investors little additional insight on the timing for a rate hike. “It’s basically the message they put out in their statement in September.”
The Sept. 17 decision came around a period of heavy market volatility due to concerns about slowing global economic growth, particularly in China.
At 2:25 p.m., the Dow Jones industrial average rose 53.21 points, or 0.31 percent, to 16,965.5, the S&P 500 gained 5.72 points, or 0.29 percent, to 2,001.55 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 14.56 points, or 0.3 percent, to 4,776.59.
Seven of the 10 major S&P sectors were up, with energy leading the way with a 1.4 percent increase as crude oil prices rallied and hit a 5-week high. The health index was down 0.6 percent followed by a 0.2 percent decline for the financial sector and a 0.2 percent decline for technology stocks .
Data released on Thursday showed U.S. jobless claims fell more than expected last week. That gave a more upbeat view of the health of the labor market than Friday’s weak monthly report, which prompted speculation that the Fed would not raise rates this year.
Investors are also bracing for quarterly results that will reveal how badly U.S. companies are being hit by slowing global growth and a strong dollar.
Profit at S&P 500 companies are now expected to fall 4.5 percent in the third quarter, the biggest decline in six years, according to Thomson Reuters data.
After the close, Alcoa will report results, officially starting the earnings season. The stock was down 0.4 percent.
Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by 2,126 to 887, for a 2.40-to-1 ratio on the upside; on the Nasdaq, 1,551 issues rose and 1,154 fell for a 1.34-to-1 ratio favoring advancers.
The S&P 500 posted 11 new 52-week highs and no new lows; the Nasdaq recorded 51 new highs and 31 new lows. (Reporting by Abhiram Nandakumar and Tanya Agrawal in Bengaluru; Editing by Savio D‘Souza)