Energy stocks drag US markets lower

NYSE trader Image copyright Reuters

Wall Street markets closed broadly lower after a sharp fall in the price of oil hit energy stocks.

The Dow Jones lost 0.33% to 20,855.73 while the S&P 500 shed 0.23% to 2,362.98.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq climbed 0.06%, however, to 5,837.55.

The price of Brent Crude oil slipped 5% to $53.13 on fears that rising US production would offset Opec efforts to curb supply, thereby suppressing prices.

Among the biggest fallers were Devon Energy Corp, down 6.52%, Chevron Corp, down 1.97%, and Exxon Mobil, down 1.81%.

Real estate stocks also fell after the ADP National Employment report showed the US private sector added 298,000 jobs last month - well above expectations.

The report portrays the US economy in robust health, lending weight to expectations the Fed will raise interest rates next week.

The S&P 500 Real Estate Sector index - which is typically sensitive to rate rise fears - shed 1.5%.

Heavy-equipment maker Caterpillar also performed badly, slipping 2.81%.

The drop came after the New York Times said a report commissioned by the US government had accused the heavy equipment maker of carrying out tax and accounting fraud.

Caterpillar refused to comment on the report.

Spokeswoman Corrie Scott told the BBC: "We were not provided a copy of the report. We will not comment on a report we have not seen."