Slumping oil prices rein in stock indexes | Business

Updated at 11:03 a.m.

NEW YORK • The price of oil slumped to its lowest level of the year on Tuesday and helped to restrain U.S. stock indexes, which set records a day earlier.

KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor’s 500 index dipped 8 points, or 0.3 percent, to 2,445, as of noon Eastern time. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 8 points, or less than 0.1 percent, to 21,521. Both the S&P 500 and Dow set records on Monday thanks to big gains from technology stocks.

The Nasdaq composite lost 2 points, or 0.3 percent, to 6,218, and the Russell 2000 index of small-cap stocks fell 9, or 0.7 percent, to 1,409.

SLIDING LOWER: The price of benchmark U.S. crude fell $1.16, or 2.6 percent, to $43.27 per barrel. Earlier in the day, it touched its weakest level since mid-November.

The price of oil has been bouncing between $40 and $55 per barrel for much of the last year, down from a peak of more than $110 in the summer of 2013. Drillers have gotten much more efficient at pulling oil out of the ground, which has helped supplies to balloon and weigh on prices. Oil-producing countries have banded together to cut production in hopes of limiting supplies, but analysts are skeptical about how much they can influence prices.

Brent crude, the international standard, fell $1.10 to $45.81 per barrel.

THE STOCK EFFECT: The sliding price of oil helped yank energy stocks in the S&P 500 down by 1.6 percent, the largest loss among the 11 sectors that make up the index.

Hess fell $2.33, or 5.4 percent, to $40.63, Marathon Oil dropped 52 cents, or 4.2 percent, to $11.97 and Transocean lost 34 cents, or 3.9 percent, to $8.23.

BUILDING HIGHER: Homebuilder Lennar rose $1.19, or 2.3 percent, to $53.93 after reporting stronger revenue and earnings for the latest quarter than analysts expected.

BUYOUT BUMP: Parexel International, a…

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