Stocks close modestly lower, continuing a decline from the day before; crude oil price soars

Energy Associated Press

U.S. stocks are closing modestly lower, continuing a downward trajectory from the day before.

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The Dow Jones industrial average fell 77 points, or 0.4 percent, to 17,698 Wednesday. The Dow slumped 200 points on Tuesday.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index lost eight points, or 0.4 percent, to 2,059. The Nasdaq composite declined 20 points, also 0.4 percent, to 4,880.

Five of the 10 industry sectors in the S&P 500 fell, led by health care. Energy stocks were among the winners as the price of oil rose sharply.

Oil soared on signs that U.S. production growth is slowing and anticipation that a delay in talks with Iran over its nuclear program could keep Iranian oil off the world market.

U.S. crude rose $2.49 to $50.09 a barrel in New York.