* Energy shares weaker as oil dips
* Netflix slips ahead of quarterly report
* Fed’s Fischer says “not that simple” to raise rates
* Indexes down: Dow 0.31 pct, S&P 0.29 pct, Nasdaq 0.26 pct (Updates to late afternoon trading, changes byline)
By Chuck Mikolajczak
NEW YORK, Oct 17 (Reuters) - Wall Street was modestly lower on Monday as energy stocks slipped along with oil prices, while Amazon and Netflix weighed on consumer discretionary stocks.
Federal Reserve Vice Chairman Stanley Fischer warned that economic stability could be threatened by low interest rates and noted the central bank is “very close” to its employment and inflation targets, but said it was “not that simple” for the Fed to raise rates.
The comments from Fischer, a dove who has supported a rate hike, come even as other Fed officials have recently said the current state of affairs may be about as good as it gets.
The central bank’s lack of clarity on the timing of a rate hike is seen aggravating the uncertainty in the markets that has been sparked by changing dynamics in a tumultuous U.S. presidential election and nervousness regarding third-quarter earnings.
“We’ve got a bunch of uncertainty coming up. You have first the election, then you have the OPEC meeting where they are finally going to actually say what they are going to do and at some point here you probably have a 25-basis point increase in the Fed funds rate,” said Tim Ghriskey, chief investment officer of Solaris Group in Bedford Hills, New York.
Energy stocks were 0.6 percent lower as U.S. oil prices settled down 0.8 percent at $49.94 while Brent crude settled down 0.8 percent at $51.52 a barrel. Comments from the Iranian vice president about regaining market share added to bearish sentiment, although losses were curbed by expectations of an upcoming OPEC production cut.
Investors are looking for corporate profits to turn a corner in the third-quarter after a string of declines. With 7 percent of S&P 500 companies having reported through Monday morning, expectations are for a decline of 0.1 percent for the quarter, an improvement from the 0.5 percent decline expected on Oct. 1, according to Thomson Reuters data.
The Dow Jones industrial average fell 56.87 points, or 0.31 percent, to 18,081.51, the S&P 500 lost 6.18 points, or 0.29 percent, to 2,126.8 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 13.34 points, or 0.26 percent, to 5,200.82.
Bank of America Corp shares edged up 0.3 percent as its profit rose for the first time in three quarters and topped estimates.
Netflix Inc fell 1.4 percent as analysts anticipate weakness in subscriber growth when the video streaming website reports third-quarter results after markets close.
Amazon.com Inc lost 1.1 percent, on track for its third straight decline, along with Netflix dragged the consumer discretionary sector 0.7 percent lower.
Hasbro Inc, however, was a bright spot, surging 8.2 percent after the toymaker’s better-than-expected quarterly report.
Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by a 1.35-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.44-to-1 ratio favored decliners.
The S&P 500 posted no new 52-week highs and seven new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 21 new highs and 83 new lows.
Reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak; Editing by Lisa Shumaker