* Fed advances discussion on exit strategy -FOMC minutes
* Airline shares rally after American's revenue comment
* Dow up 0.4 pct, S&P 500 up 0.4 pct; Nasdaq up 0.6 pct (Updates with Fed minutes)
By Angela Moon
NEW YORK, July 9 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks rose to session highs on Wednesday after minutes from the last Federal Reserve meeting showed the central bank has begun detailing how it will end its easy monetary policy.
Major stock indexes dipped immediately after the release of the minutes but quickly recovered.
The Fed indicated it will end its asset purchases in October and appeared near agreement on a plan to manage interest rates in the future, according to the minutes.
"The market, after digesting the Fed minutes, came to the conclusion that the bond buying program ending in October is a sign of economic strength," said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Rockwell Global Capital in New York.
"So while it was a bit more hawkish, the conclusion is the economy doesn't need any more crutches."
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 67.95 points or 0.4 percent, to 16,974.57, the S&P 500 gained 7.78 points or 0.4 percent, to 1,971.49 and the Nasdaq Composite added 24.44 points or 0.56 percent, to 4,415.90.
Alcoa Inc was one of the S&P 500's biggest advancers, up 5.9 percent to $15.72, a day after the U.S. aluminum producer's adjusted second-quarter earnings and revenue topped Wall Street's forecasts.
While the former Dow component is no longer considered a market-moving industry bellwether, Alcoa is sometimes viewed as setting the tone for the season because it is one of the first high-profile names to report.
Wells Fargo & Co, the largest U.S. mortgage lender, will report results on Friday. Dozens of closely-watched companies, including Dow components, will release earnings reports next week.
S&P 500 companies' profits are projected to grow 6.2 percent in the second quarter, according to Thomson Reuters data, down from the forecast of 8.4 percent at the start of April. Revenue is expected to rise 3 percent.
The expected growth is "not nothing, but it is nothing to get too excited about," Jeff Kleintop, chief market strategist at LPL Financial (NasdaqGS: LPLA - news) in Boston, wrote in a note to clients.
"The growth rate supports our outlook for high single-digit earnings growth in 2014 and further gains for U.S. stocks," Kleintop wrote. "But, despite the big show that is likely to be made over the U.S. earnings season in the coming weeks, it is not likely to be all that different from last quarter."
American Airlines Group shares climbed 4.1 percent to $41.91 in heavy volume. The company narrowed its second-quarter unit revenue growth forecast, raising the low end and scaling back the high end.
Southwest Airlines Co (NYSE: LUV - news) was up 1.8 percent to $27.17. Delta Air Lines Inc (NYSE: DAL - news) rose 1.6 percent to $37.04. (Reporting by Angela Moon; Editing by Jan Paschal and Nick Zieminski)