Stocks are closing lower Wednesday, led by declines in energy stocks as the price of oil fell sharply. The Dow Jones industrial average dropped 158 points, or 0.9%, to 17,729. The Standard & Poor's 500 index lost 23 points, or 1.1%, to 2,079. The Nasdaq composite declined 33 points, or 0.6%, to 5,123.
Chevron and Exxon Mobil lost the most in the Dow. The price of oil sank 5% to close below $40 a barrel for the first time since August. The drop came after the government surprised the market by reporting a jump in crude oil inventories. Yahoo bucked the downward trend. The Internet pioneer jumped 6% following reports that the company was thinking of selling its core Internet businesses.