The Dow and the S&P 500 slipped on Wednesday after the U.S. Federal Reserve said it will keep interest rates near zero and investors remained cautious before President Barack Obama's State of the Union address tonight.

But the Nasdaq received a modest boost from a gain of 0.5 percent in the shares of Apple Inc after the iPad's debut.

The Fed vowed to keep rates near zero for a while in an effort to continue an economic recovery held back by high unemployment, although it did adopt a somewhat brighter tone from its December meeting.

They kicked the can down the road and did exactly what we thought they would do -- reiterate things are getting better, but not nearly ready ... to increase rates, said Burt White, managing director and chief investment officer of LPL Financial in Boston.

The State of the Union, Bernanke's reconfirmation and GDP numbers on Friday, people are just waiting on the sidelines for those things to come through.

The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> dipped 13.60 points, or 0.13 percent, to 10,180.69. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> edged down 0.55 of a point, or 0.05 percent, to 1,091.62. But the Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> gained 4.97 points, or 0.23 percent, to 2,208.70.

Apple shares rose 0.5 percent to $206.92, reversing course from a drop of more than 3 percent earlier in the session after it unveiled its iPad tablet computer.

The U.S. president's first State of the Union address is scheduled to be broadcast live, beginning at 9:00 p.m. tonight.

(Reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak; Editing by Jan Paschal)