US stocks end lower as Yemen crisis stokes volatility

NEW YORK (AFP) - Wall Street stocks Thursday ended lower in volatile trade spurred by the Yemen crisis.

At the closing bell, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was at 17,678.43, down 40.11 points (0.23 per cent). The blue-chip index had fallen below 15,600 earlier in the session.

The broad-based S&P 500 dropped 4.78 (0.23 per cent) to 2,056.27, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index shed 13.16 (0.27 per cent) at 4,863.36.

Oil prices rose sharply as a Saudi-led coalition bombed Huthi Shi'ite rebels in support of Yemen's embattled president. Iran condemned the intervention.

US stocks seemed headed for another rout in early trade after Wednesday's losses but clawed back into positive territory at mid-afternoon before finishing modestly in the red.

"At least for today, the buy-the-dip mentality has been in effect," said Michael James, managing director for equity trading at Wedbush Securities.