* Caterpillar sinks after cutting sales forecast
* Jobless claims, August durable orders in line with estimates
* Investors await Yellen speech at 5 p.m. ET
* Indexes down: Dow 1.3 pct, S&P 1.14 pct, Nasdaq 1.17 pct (Updates to open)
By Tanya Agrawal
Sept 24 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks fell more than 1 percent in early trading on Thursday as Caterpillar’s forecast cut weighed on industrials.
Investors were also apprehensive ahead of a speech by Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen.
Caterpillar fell 7 percent to its lowest level since 2010 after the company cut its 2015 revenue forecast and said it could cut up to 10,000 jobs.
The stock was the biggest drag on the Dow and on the S&P 500 materials index, which was down 1.69 percent.
Investors will look for clues regarding the timing of an interest rate hike when Yellen delivers a speech on inflation at 5 p.m. ET (2100 GMT).
The U.S. equity market has been skittish since last Thursday, when the Fed held off from raising rates, as was expected by some. Up to Wednesday’s close, the S&P 500 had fallen 2.8 percent since then.
“There is some apprehension ahead of Yellen’s speech,” said Scott Colyer, chief executive officer of Advisors Asset Management in Monument, Colorado.
“The lack of visibility regarding earnings growth is problematic right now and you’re going to see this back and forth till we get a clearer picture of economic recovery.”
The earnings of S&P 500 companies are expected to decline 3.9 percent in the third quarter from a year ago, Thomson Reuters data shows.
At 9:58 a.m. the Dow Jones industrial average was down 211.69 points, or 1.3 percent, at 16,068.2. Caterpillar shaved off about 31 points from the Dow.
The S&P 500 was down 22.11 points, or 1.14 percent, at 1,916.65 and the Nasdaq composite was down 55.60 points, or 1.17 percent, at 4,697.14.
Nine of the 10 major S&P sectors were lower, with the materials index’s 1.41 percent fall leading the decliners. Dow Chemicals fell 2 percent while Monsanto was down 1.6 percent.
The utilities sector eked out a gain of 0.1 percent as the U.S. 10-year treasury yield hit 4-week lows.
Earlier, U.S. stock futures barely moved after data showed that jobless claims rose less-than-expected last week and durable goods orders in August fell as much as economists had expected.
U.S. stocks closed slightly lower on Wednesday, as weak factory data from China and the United States led to a selloff in materials and industrial stocks.
Seeking to warm bilateral ties and project a sunny climate for U.S. business, Chinese President Xi Jinping vowed on Wednesday to cut restrictions on foreign investment.
KB Home was down 4.4 percent at $13.82 after reporting results.
Sales of new U.S. single-family homes rose 5.7 percent in August, slower than a revised 12 percent jump in July, data showed on Thursday.
Nike and Bed Bath & Beyond are expected to report quarterly results after the market closes.
Declining issues outnumbered advancers on the NYSE by 2,320 to 412. On the Nasdaq, 1,885 issues fell and 495 advanced.
The S&P 500 index showed no new 52-week highs and 56 new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded seven new highs and 111 new lows. (Reporting by Tanya Agrawal in Bengaluru; Editing by Savio D‘Souza)