Daniel Wagner

Falling commodity prices punished materials and energy companies Wednesday, pushing Wall Street’s major stock indexes to a lower close.

Crude oil lost nearly $2 to $105 a barrel, hurting energy stocks. Peabody Energy fell 3.4 percent; Chevron, 1.1 percent; and Exxon, 0.9 percent.

Materials fell the most among the 10 industry groups in the Standard & Poor’s 500 index. Aluminum producer Alcoa Inc. fell 2.6 percent. The only stock in the Dow Jones industrial average that lost more was heavy equipment maker Caterpillar Inc., which dropped 3.5 percent.

All three major indexes lost a half percent. The Dow closed down 71.52 points at 13,126.21. The broader S&P 500 index lost 6.98 to 1,405.54. The Nasdaq composite index, heavy with technology stocks, fell 15.39 to 3,104.96.

One bright spot was the strong debut of Annie’s Inc., a company that sells prepared organic food. In its first day of trading on the New York Stock Exchange, Annie’s leapt 89 percent to $35.92. The company, based in Berkeley, Calif., had priced its shares at $19 late Tuesday.

The broad declines came in spite of a government report that orders for durable goods rose strongly last month, a sign that businesses continue to invest.

The Commerce Department said before the market opened that orders for durable goods, which are defined as products expected to last at least three years, rose 2.2 percent in February. Orders for machinery, computers, autos and aircraft led the rise.

The positive economic news reduced demand for U.S. Treasury debt. The yield on the 10-year Treasury rose to 2.21 percent from 2.19 percent before the report.

As stocks fell, traders again sought the safety of Treasurys and the yield fell back to 2.20 percent.

Health insurance companies declined more than the broader market as the U.S. Supreme Court wrapped up oral arguments in a challenge to President Barack Obama’s massive health-care overhaul. Aetna Inc. and Health Net Inc. lost 1 percent; Catalyst Health Solutions fell 1.4 percent.