* Wal-Mart gains after results
* Energy stocks gain as Brent crude top $50/bbl
* Cisco drops on disappointing forecast
* Indexes up: Dow 0.04 pct, S&P 0.2 pct, Nasdaq 0.2 pct (Updates to late afternoon)
By Caroline Valetkevitch
Aug 18 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks edged higher in Thursday afternoon trading as gains in energy shares and in Wal-Mart offset telecom’s losses.
Wal-Mart rose 1.7 percent after the retailer’s better-than-expected quarterly profit.
The energy index was up 1.6 percent after Brent crude topped $50 per barrel for the first time in six weeks as major producers prepared to discuss a possible freeze in output.
The telecommunications index’s 1.1 percent loss led sector decliners.
At 3:08 p.m. ET, the Dow Jones industrial average was up 8.21 points, or 0.04 percent, to 18,582.15, the S&P 500 had gained 3.52 points, or 0.16 percent, to 2,185.74 and the Nasdaq Composite had added 12.25 points, or 0.23 percent, to 5,240.91.
Investors also weighed up minutes of the Federal Reserve’s July meeting, released on Wednesday, that showed policymakers were divided over whether to raise interest rates in the near-term.
“The market has been Fed-driven so far. It is going through a phase where it will pivot from the Fed to more emphasis on companies growing their revenues,” said Thomas Wilson, Managing Director of Wealth Advisory at Brinker Capital, in Berwyn, Pennsylvania.
Cisco shares fell 1.2 percent to $30.35 after the network equipment provider said it would cut 5,500 jobs and gave a disappointing forecast.
Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 2.18-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.96-to-1 ratio favored advancers.
The S&P 500 posted 19 new 52-week highs and no new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 86 new highs and 24 new lows. (Additional reporting by Tanya Agrawal in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty and Savio D‘Souza)