Wall Street closes lower after airstrikes in Yemen

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(Close): Stocks on Wall Street closed lower as global markets tumbled following news of airstrikes by Saudi Arabia and its allies on Yemen.

The action stoked fears of rising tensions in the Middle East and oil prices jumped in response.

The Dow Jones fell 40 points, or 0.2% to 17,678, while the broader S&P 500 dropped 5 points, or 0.2%, to end on 2,056.

The tech-focused Nasdaq closed 13 points lower, or 0.3%, at 4,863.

Oil prices surged on news of the airstrikes. Brent crude futures jumped $2.6 to hit $59.09 a barrel, while US crude settled $2.08 higher at $51.29 a barrel, having peaked at $52.48 a barrel earlier.

"Obviously the situation in Yemen is being used as the excuse for this pullback, which is a continuation of yesterday," Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Rockwell Global Capital, told Reuters.

Among individual stocks, Sandisk fell 18% after the firm cut its outlook for revenues for both the first quarter of 2015 and the full year.

Yoga-attire maker Lululemon Athletica jumped 4.9% as revenues for the three months to 1 February rose 15.6% to $602.5m.

The dollar gained 0.8% against the euro, edging to €0.9188.