NEW YORK (AP) -- U.S. markets are slipping Monday morning as falling oil and gas prices drag energy companies lower. Starwood Hotels is climbing after a consortium led by China's Anbang Insurance Group offered to buy the company. Supermarket chain The Fresh Market is also trading higher on buyout talks.
KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial average fell 44 points, or 0.3 percent, to 17,169 as of 9:57 a.m. Eastern time. The Standard & Poor's 500 index lost 8 points, or 0.4 percent, to 2,014. The Nasdaq composite index inched down 10 points, or 0.2 percent, to 4,738.
LOW ENERGY: Energy was by far the biggest declining sector in the S&P 500 as oil and natural gas prices slumped. U.S. benchmark crude fell $1.49, or 3.9 percent, to $37.01 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, the global benchmark, lost $1.39, or 3.4 percent, to $39 a barrel in London. Natural gas was down 1 percent to $1.80 per 1,000 cubic feet.
Southwestern Energy lost 62 cents, or 7.8 percent, to $7.38 and Chesapeake Energy gave up 29 cents, or 6.3 percent, to $4.41. Murphy Oil slid 93 cents, or 3.9 percent, to $22.78.
BOOK A ROOM: Starwood Hotels jumped after consortium led by China's Anbang Insurance Group offered to buy the hotel chain for $14 billion. Last year Marriott International agreed to buy Starwood for $12.2 billion.
Anbang bought New York's Waldorf Astoria for almost $2 billion in 2014 and on Saturday it agreed to buy Strategic Hotels & Resorts for $6.5 billion. It's offering $76 per share for Starwood, which rose $5.05, or 7.2 percent, to $75.47.
Marriott stock rose $1.69, or 2.5 percent, to $70.58.
GROCERY SHOPPING: The Fresh Market jumped $5.43, or 23.6 percent, to $28.41 after private equity firm Apollo Global said it will buy the grocery store chain for $1.3 billion, or $28.50 per share.
HIGHER: Drug developer GW Pharmaceuticals more than doubled after it reported positive results from a late-stage study of its drug Epidiolex, an experimental seizure disorder treatment derived from a marijuana extract.
GW Pharmaceuticals stock added $44.41, or 115 percent, to $82.87.
OVERSEAS: Stocks in Europe rose after the eurozone had its biggest monthly increase in industrial production since 2009. Germany's DAX rose 1.4 percent. France's CAC 40 added 0.4 percent while Britain's FTSE 100 rose 0.4 percent.
Chinese stocks rose after the chief of the China Securities Regulatory Commission told a press conference over the weekend that it's too early to talk about winding back official support measures for the markets, according to the official Xinhua news agency. That suggests the government will continue to support Chinese equities.
Meanwhile Japan reported a jump in private sector machinery orders, a sign that capital spending could improve this year. Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 index rose 1.7 percent and South Korea's Kospi was little changed. Hong Kong's Hang Seng added 1.2 percent and the Shanghai Composite Index in mainland China gained 1.8 percent.
CENTRAL BANKS: Investors are awaiting more central bank meetings after the European Central Bank followed through last week on its promise to provide more economic stimulus. In the U.S., the Federal Reserve wraps up a two-day meeting on Wednesday. While investors think there's little chance of a rate hike, they'll be watching to see whether policymakers are leaning toward such a move at their next major meeting in June. The Bank of Japan and the Bank of England are also due to meet this week though analysts don't expect any major policy changes.
BONDS, CURRENCIES: Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note slipped to 1.96 percent from 1.98 percent. The euro declined to $1.1107 from $1.1157 late Friday. The dollar dipped to 113.62 yen from 113.70 yen.