Wall Street opens lower as tech, energy stocks drag

NEW YORK (REUTERS) - US stocks edged lower on Wednesday due to losses in energy and technology shares.

Oil prices fell more than 1.3 per cent and dragged down the S&P 500 energy index by 0.8 per cent. Dow components Exxon Mobil and Chevron fell 0.9 per cent. Microsoft fell 1.3 per cent and Cisco 2.5 per cent, pulling down the technology index. Five of the 11 major S&P indexes were lower.

Investors are focusing on the release of the minutes (later tonight) from the Federal Reserve's September policy meeting that will reveal policymakers' views on the progress of the US economy and its ability to absorb an interest rate hike this year.

The markets are likely to be more volatile as the third-quarter earnings season will test relatively high valuations of stocks.

Overall S&P 500 earnings are currently expected to fall 0.7 per cent in the third quarter, marking the fifth quarter of negative earnings in a row, according to Thomson Reuters data.

At 9:44 a.m. ET (9:44 p.m Singapore time), the Dow Jones industrial average was down 40.68 points, or 0.22 per cent, at 18,087.98, the S&P 500 was down 3.22 points, or 0.15 per cent, at 2,133.51 and the Nasdaq Composite was down 14.51 points, or 0.28 per cent, at 5,232.28.

Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by 1,568 to 1,064. On the Nasdaq, 1,373 issues fell and 861 advanced.

The S&P 500 index showed no new 52-week highs and one new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 12 new highs and 20 new lows.