US STOCKS-Wall St edges lower as oil decline continues

miércoles 31 de diciembre de 2014 15:17 GYT

* Trading expected to be light in final day of the year

* Crude oil weakens again

* Jobless claims rise more than expected in latest week

* Indexes off: Dow 0.1 pct, S&P 0.2 pct, Nasdaq 0.04 pct (Updates to afternoon trading, changes byline)

By Chuck Mikolajczak

NEW YORK, Dec 31 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks were little changed on Wednesday, putting major indexes on track to close out 2014 just off record levels, as crude oil prices continued their descent.

While the market's seasonal trend of modest moves and low volume continued, there was heavier action in the energy space. U.S. Crude oil lost 2.1 percent, the fourth drop of at least 2 percent in the past five sessions, putting the commodity at its lowest since May 2009. Brent shed 1.7 percent to $56.88.

The S&P Energy index, easily the worst performing sector of the year with a decline of more that 9 percent, edged down 0.1 percent Wednesday. Diamond Offshore fell 2.6 percent to $37.08 and Noble Corp was off 2.3 percent at $16.65.

Equities have lost steam heading into the New Year after rallying nearly 6 percent over eight sessions, sparked by the U.S. Federal Reserve's commitment to be "patient" about raising interest rates and positive economic data.   Continuación...