US STOCKS-Higher oil prices help Wall Street nullify tech retreat

Nov 22 (Reuters) - Wall Street's main indexes were flat in morning trading on Wednesday, but holding at record levels, as a retreat in technology stocks was offset by a jump in U.S. crude prices.

The minutes of the Federal Reserve's latest policy meeting is due later in the day and will be scrutinized for the central bank's thinking on inflation for more clarity on what it might do under a new chair next year.

A final quarter-point rise under current Chair Janet Yellen next month is almost fully baked in to short-term interest rates, underlining the Fed's continuing optimism about the economy.

But the pace of rises is also slow enough not to scare stock investors who have thrived on a decade of cheap money.

Trading volumes were thin ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday on Thursday and an early close on Friday. The CBOE Volatility index, known as Wall Street's fear gauge, was down for the fifth session in a row and at two-week lows.

"On this eve of Thanksgiving, the market is attempting to maintain an upward bias with oil prices and the macro news leading the way," Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at First Standard Financial, wrote in a note.

At 9:40 a.m. ET (1440 GMT), the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 6.89 points, or 0.03 percent, at 23,583.94, the S&P 500 was up 0.1 points, or 0.01 percent, at 2,599.13 and the Nasdaq Composite was up 0.99 points, or 0.01 percent, at 6,863.46.

All of Wall Street's main indexes closed at record levels on Tuesday, led by technology stocks, by far the best performing sector of the market this year.

After two days of gains, the sector dipped 0.32 percent, making them the biggest decliner among the 11 major S&P sectors.

The biggest drop was a 7.2 percent decline in Hewlett Packard Enterprise after Chief Executive Meg Whitman said she would leave in February six years into the job.

That was followed by HP Inc, comprising the computer and printer business that Whitman carved out of the old Hewlett Packard, which fell 5.7 percent after reporting an unimpressive profit.

The energy index rose 0.62 percent. U.S. light crude jumped nearly 2 percent to their highest since July 2015 as a major pipeline cut Canadian deliveries to the United States, where inventories are already said to be falling.

One other gainer was tractor maker Deere & Co, which rose about 3.27 percent after reporting upbeat quarterly earnings and issuing a strong profit forecast for the year.

The Fed's Open Market Committee releases minutes of its October policy meeting at 2:00 p.m. ET

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by 1,658 to 852. On the Nasdaq, 1,481 issues rose and 871 fell. (Reporting by Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Savio D'Souza)