Wall Street rises at open as chances of 2015 Fed rate hike fade

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - Wall Street opened slightly higher on Friday, keeping the S&P 500 on track for its best week this year, as investors bet the Federal Reserve would not move interest rates off near-zero levels this year.

The minutes of the Fed's September meeting, released on Thursday, indicated further signs of dovishness, with policymakers concerned about a global economic slowdown weighing on America, even before weak September jobs data. "It was more a case of an abundance of caution rather than worry," said Brad McMillan, chief investment officer for Commonwealth Financial Network.

"They are actually pretty comfortable with the U.S. economy. They don't see anything to worry about, which is a remarkable thing to say," Mr McMillan said.

U.S. stocks closed higher on Thursday, while global stocks rallied on Friday after the Fed minutes. U.S. crude oil rose, while the dollar fell.

U.S. import prices declined a smaller-than-expected 0.1 per cent in September, Labor Department data showed.

Fed Chair Janet Yellen has said import prices have been a major factor in keeping inflation below the Fed's 2 per cent target.

At 9:51 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones industrial average was up 42.36 points, or 0.25 per cent, at 17,093.11.

The S&P 500 was up 5.06 points, or 0.25 percent, at 2,018.49 and the Nasdaq composite index was up 13.71 points, or 0.29 percent, at 4,824.50.

McMillan expects stocks to finish the week on a high note.

Seven of the 10 major S&P sectors were up. The materials sector's 0.8 per cent rise led the advancers as prices of aluminum, zinc, lead and copper jumped after Glencore said it would slash zinc output.

Freeport-McMoRan was up 5.4 per cent, while Newmont Mining rose 4.2 per cent.

Alcoa's shares were down nearly 2 per cent at $10.80 after it reported disappointing results.

Tesla fell 2.7 percent to $220.61 after Barclays cut its rating on the electric car maker's stock to"underweight".

Gap fell 6.7 percent to $26.96 after reporting a bigger-than-expected fall in September same-store sales.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by 1,750 to 922. On the Nasdaq, 1,520 issues rose and 774 fell.

The S&P 500 index showed 15 new 52-week highs and one new low, while the Nasdaq recorded 40 new highs and 12 new lows.