The Standard & Poor™s 500 Index erased a loss as speculation that the Federal Reserve will keep rates lower for longer overshadowed a drop in energy shares.

The S&P 500 slipped less than 1 point to 2,099.65 at 4 p.m. in New York, after losing as much as 0.4 percent. Energy companies in the benchmark index fell 1.5 percent as crude oil declined 2.6 percent from a seven-week high.

Equities pared losses as minutes from the Fed™s latest meeting showed some policy makers argued for keeping rates low for longer amid risks facing the economy.

The FOMC said after its last meeting it œcan be patient as it considers when to raise the benchmark interest rate, even as it described the labor market as œstrong. A report the following week showed payrolls rose more than forecast in January to cap the strongest three-month gain in 17 years.

Source: Bloomberg