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Stocks open lower as weak oil prices push energy sector down

NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stocks were falling sharply for a second day on Wednesday, dragged lower once again by a tumble in commodity prices, most notably oil.

KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial average lost 218 points, or 1.3 percent, to 16,214 as of 10:06 a.m. Eastern. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell 26 points, or 1.3 percent, to 1,896 and the Nasdaq composite was down 69 points, or 1.5 percent, to 4,435.

CRUDE CONCERNS: Saudi Arabia’s oil minister, Ali Al-Naimi, told a meeting of energy leaders in Houston this week that production cuts aimed at supporting falling crude prices won’t work. He said that the market should instead let some operators go out of business. Crude oil tumbled more than 4 percent on Tuesday and continued its fall on Wednesday.

Crude oil was down $1.19, or 3.7 percent, to $30.68 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, which is used to price oils internationally, fell 70 cents, or 2 percent, to $32.59 a barrel.

SAFETY: Bond prices rose, with the yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note falling to 1.66 percent as investors sought safety amid the broad market decline. Gold prices rose more than 2 percent to $1,248 an ounce.

PAYING DOWN DEBT: Chesapeake Energy rose 23 cents, or 11 percent, to $2.43. The oil and gas production company reported a $14.9 billion loss for 2015 as the company wrote down the value of its oil producing properties, however the company also said it was selling off assets to pay down debt.

CURRENCIES: The dollar fell to 111.82 yen from 111.97 yen in the previous day’s trading. The euro weakened to $1.0965 from $1.1018.

In related news, Stocks open slightly lower on Wall Street.

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