Saudi Arabian strikes in Yemen hit global stock markets and oil prices higher

Stocks are opening modestly lower in the U.S. Thursday, following bigger declines in Europe after Saudi Arabia launched strikes on key military installations in Yemen. The price of oil rose.

KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial average was down 81 points, or 0.5 percent, to 17,636 as of 9:55 a.m. Eastern. The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell nine points, or 0.5 percent, to 2,052 and the Nasdaq composite lost 42 points, or 0.8 percent, to 4,837.

ENERGY: Oil prices jumped as concerns of spreading turmoil in the Middle East after Saudi Arabia bombed key military installations in Yemen. Benchmark U.S. crude rose $1.26 to $50.48 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils, rose $1.55 at $58.05 a barrel in London.

YEMENI WORRIES: In Yemen, Saudi Arabia launched air strikes, along with others, to oust Shiite rebels that forced the country's embattled president to flee. Some of the strikes hit positions in the country's capital, Sanaa, and flattened a number of homes near the international airport.

ANALYST TAKE: "The conflict has the potential to act as a drag on oil supplies as most oil tankers from Arab producers must pass by the Yemen coastline in order to get through the Red Sea and Suez Canal," said Craig Erlam, senior market analyst at OANDA.

EUROPE: Most of the selling Thursday was in Europe, where Germany's DAX was down 1.4 percent, France's CAC 40 fell 1.3 percent and Britain's FTSE 100 lost 1.2 percent.

CURRENCIES: The euro was flat against the dollar at $1.0959. The dollar fell to 119.09 yen.

BONDS: U.S. government bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 1.96 percent from 1.93 percent the day before.