Stock indexes drop as oil prices fall and worries about higher interest rates persist

Energy Associated Press

Stocks are falling in midday trading, led by declines in energy and utility stocks.

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The price of oil took another turn lower Friday and traders are continuing to worry about higher interest rates in the U.S.

The Federal Reserve meets next week to discuss rates, and many expect the bank to start raising borrowing costs beginning in June.

The Dow Jones industrial average slumped 250 points, or 1.4 percent, to 17,644 as of 11:45 a.m. Eastern.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 23 points, or 1.1 percent, to 2,042. The Nasdaq composite declined 45 points, or 0.9 percent, to 4,847.

Benchmark U.S. crude oil fell $1.78 to $45.26 a barrel in New York.

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Among energy stocks, offshore rig company Transocean fell 4 percent and Halliburton fell 2 percent.