US STOCKS-Wall Street falls as energy sector weighs

miércoles 10 de diciembre de 2014 11:00 GYT

* Brent crude hits new five-year low

* Costco, Toll Brothers post quarterly results

* Indexes off: Dow 0.63 pct, S&P 0.58 pct, Nasdaq 0.31 pct (Updates to market open)

By Chuck Mikolajczak

NEW YORK, Dec 10 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks were lower shortly after the opening bell on Wednesday, weighed down by a sharp decline in the energy sector as oil prices slumped.

The S&P energy index was off 2.2 percent as the worst performing S&P sector as Brent crude touched a new five-year low of $65.24 after producers forecast lower demand for their oil next year.

The sector is the worst performing of the 10 major S&P sectors for the year and the only group in negative territory. Falling oil prices have raised concerns about earnings for energy companies, with year-end tax selling bringing additional pressure on the group.

"Energy is such a broad sector and yet the group as a whole has captured the imagination of investors by its overall weakness," said Eric Weigand, senior portfolio manager at the Private Client Reserve of U.S. Bank in New York.

"Investors are really going through the space and trying to discern where the quality is and where the companies with strong balance sheets to sustain through the volatility are."   Continuación...