"My interpretation was there was some acknowledgement (in the minutes) that the data has not challenged the inflation target, so that led one to believe they might pause," said Mark Luschini, chief market strategist at Janney Montgomery.
Read MoreMarkets more about oversold conditions than the Fed minutes
Stocks tumbled Wednesday with the Dow off 162 at 17,343 on a combination of China worries, plunging oil prices and uncertainty about when the Fed will raise rates. Stocks were volatile, regaining some ground after the minutes, but then moving lower again.
The dollar weakened and Treasury yields fell, as traders took the Fed's afternoon release of minutes to be dovish.
"I expect we will have more volatility as we draw closer to the September meeting. I don't know if we see wild swings like we saw today. That was pretty spectacular," said Luschini. "Absent market friendly news, there's no catalyst to unlock the stock market from this trading range we're in, which is exceedingly narrow."
Read MoreChair Yellen, please take your victory lap!
The S&P 500 fell 17 points to 2079, just above its 200-day moving average of 2077.
Oil prices will stay in focus after the 4.3 percent drop in West Texas Intermediate oil futures pushed energy stocks sharply lower. The S&P energy sector was off 2.8 percent.