US STOCKS-Energy drags Wall St lower; S&P down slightly in August
* U.S. crude drops below $45 for first time since Aug. 15
* August private job creation slightly better than expected
* Palo Alto Networks drops after disappointing forecast
* Indexes down: Dow 0.29 pct, S&P 0.24 pct, Nasdaq 0.19 pct
By Rodrigo Campos
NEW YORK, Aug 31 (Reuters) - Stocks ended lower on Wall Street on Wednesday, as energy shares tracked oil prices lower, and the S&P posted a loss for August, the first negative month for the benchmark index since February.
The Nasdaq gained 1 percent in August and the S&P shed 0.1 percent, speaking to stocks' resiliency after the S&P hit an all-time high mid-month. It ended Wednesday within 1 percent of its record close.
The energy sector of the S&P 500 ended 1.4 percent lower on Wednesday, its largest daily decline in three weeks, as U.S. crude futures fell more than 3 percent.
Data earlier showed the private sector created 177,000 jobs in August, in line with expectations, and contracts to buy previously owned homes surged in July, suggesting the economy was regaining sufficient momentum for the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates this year. Continuación...