Energy stocks came under pressure Wednesday as crude-oil prices settled at a two-and-a-half week low. A popular way to track oil shares, the Energy Select Sector SPDR ETF , closed off 1.6%, representing its worst one-day decline since April 13, according to FactSet data. The ETF, which closely follows the S&P 500's energy sector, was led lower by a 4.3% drop in Marathon Oil Corp. and Newfield Exploration Co. , trading 3.5% lower. The energy sector was the worst performer among the S&P 500 index's 11 sectors. The United States Oil Fund LP , which also tracks the energy sector, finished 3.8% lower, booking its largest daily decline since March 8. Sparking the slump in energy was a nearly 4% drop in crude-oil prices, with May West Texas Intermediate crude contract settling below $51 a barrel. Market participants attributed the drop in oil to a combination of volatility caused by the expiration of the May WTI contract, which is set for Thursday. Energy names also helped to pull the Dow Jones Industrial Average into the red, highlighted by a 1.4% loss in shares of Chevron Corp. . The Dow closed off 0.6% at 20,404, while the S&P 500 ended down 0.2% at 2,338.
Continue Reading Below
Copyright © 2017 MarketWatch, Inc.