* Dow Chemical, DuPont jump on reported merger talks
* Energy stocks trim gains as oil recovery stalls
* Indexes down: Dow 0.41 pct, S&P 0.73 pct, Nasdaq 1.35 pct (Updates to early afternoon)
By Tanya Agrawal
Dec 9 (Reuters) - Wall Street reversed course and fell in early afternoon trading on Wednesday as a brief rally in oil prices fizzled and shares of Apple slipped, offsetting gains in raw materials stocks.
Crude oil prices resumed their slide, after rising as much as 4 percent earlier in the day. Many investors expect oil to fall below 2008 lows due to a global supply glut.
The energy index trimmed earlier gains and was up 0.8 percent. The index has lost more than 10 percent since the beginning of the month.
Apple was down nearly 2 percent to $115.93, making it the biggest drag on the Nasdaq and the S&P 500.
Dow Chemical was up 10.4 percent at $56.19 while DuPont jumped 11.2 percent to $74.04, after reports that the companies are in talks to merge.
"I think at present equities are largely events driven, last week's performance was driven by employment, this week it is oil, next week it is the Fed," said Terry Sandven, chief equity strategist at U.S. Bank Wealth Management in Minneapolis.
"Uncertainties are relatively higher at the moment and accordingly prices will trend sideways into the year-end."
Investors remain cautious as concerns regarding China's slowing economy and its impact on global demand persist. Those concerns have also hurt commodity stocks this year as China is the world's biggest consumer of metals.
At 12:26 p.m. ET (1727 GMT) the Dow Jones industrial average was down 71.42 points, or 0.41 percent, at 17,496.58, the S&P 500 was down 15.02 points, or 0.73 percent, at 2,048.57 and the Nasdaq Composite was down 68.58 points, or 1.35 percent, at 5,029.67.
Seven of the 10 major S&P 500 sectors were lower with the technology index's 1.26 percent fall leading the decliners.
The rout in crude oil prices is not expected to have an impact on a widely expected rate hike by the U.S. Federal Reserve, when it meets on Dec. 15-16. The central bank has not raised rates since June 2006.
"At the moment perhaps the biggest risk is not raising rates which would be a no confidence vote in the U.S. economy, fuelling investor angst and reducing near-term appetite for equities," Sandven said.
Yahoo was down 3.1 percent at $33.74, after the company's board decided not to sell its Alibaba stake. Alibaba was down 0.23 percent at $84.19
Costco Wholesale was down 4.9 percent at $160.43 after it reported a fall in same-store sales for the third straight quarter. The stock was the second biggest drag on the S&P and the Nasdaq.
Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by 1,660 to 1,303. On the Nasdaq, 1,732 issues fell and 957 advanced.
The S&P 500 index showed eight new 52-week highs and 12 new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 24 new highs and 84 new lows. (Reporting by Tanya Agrawal and Aastha Agnihotri; Editing by Anil D'Silva)