Wall Street opens lower, led by drop in energy stocks

NEW YORK - U.S. stocks opened lower Thursday, led by a decline in energy stocks as the price of oil continues to slide. Oil has tumbled 13 percent in the last three months as supplies have remained ample despite geopolitical tension.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell nine points to 1,987 as of 10:39 a.m. ET. The Dow Jones industrial average dropped 76 points to 16,993. The Nasdaq composite fell 23 points to 4,564.

Benchmark U.S. crude for October delivery was down 89 cents, or 1 percent, to $90.79 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract dropped $1.08 on Wednesday and has fallen for five of the past six trading sessions. Crude prices fell Wednesday after the Organization for Petroleum Exporting Countries revised down its growth forecasts for global crude oil demand in a monthly report.

In the U.S., more people sought U.S. unemployment benefits last week, though the trend in benefit applications in the past month remained low. Applications are a proxy for layoffs. The four-week average fell to an eight-year low of 293,750 last month. Generally, fewer applications indicate employers are holding onto their staffs.

Lululemon surged $4.54, or 12 percent, to $43.16 after the trouble yoga-gear retailer reported earnings that beat analysts' expectations and raised its full-year forecasts.

By early afternoon in Europe, Britain's FTSE 100 was down 0.6 percent to 6,791 while France's CAC 40 dropped by the same rate to 4,426. Germany's DAX shed 0.5 percent to 9,653.

European markets were weighed down by news that the European Union has decided to go ahead with a new round of sanctions against Russia. The penalties will take effect Friday and curb access to European financial markets for more Russian firms and banks. They also limit exports of some high-end technology and places travel and asset friezes on a list of individuals. Investors worry that stronger sanctions will hurt the economies and trade relations of Russia and Europe.

Stocks in mainland China gained ground earlier in the day after the country's monthly consumer price index showed a lower inflation rate. Consumer prices rose 2 percent last month from over a year earlier, compared with a 2.3 percent rise in July. Subdued inflation suggests the domestic economy is muted but also gives policymakers headroom to maintain easy access to credit and possibly introduce new stimulus measures.

The dollar rose to 106.92 yen from 106.82 yen late Wednesday. The euro rose to $1.2934 from $1.2921.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury note dropped to 2.53 percent from 2.54 percent on Wednesday.