By Ryan Vlastelica

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Stock markets around the world mostly fell on Monday as oil prices showed no sign of breaking their prolonged downward spiral, prompting further losses in beleaguered energy shares.

Losses were broad in the U.S. equity market, with eight of the 10 primary S&P 500 sectors down. Energy <.SPNY> was by far the weakest group, off 2.7 percent. The sector is now down more than 25 percent from a high reached in July.

U.S. crude futures slumped 4.1 percent to $ 46.39 per barrel, the lowest level since 2009, while Brent crude lost 4.9 percent as Goldman Sachs slashed its short-term price forecasts and Gulf producers showed no signs of curbing output.

Wall Street opened slightly higher, suggesting a rebound from a two-week decline that had taken the S&P 500 into negative territory for the year. But the weight of the energy drag overtook any optimism about the upcoming earnings season.

“Since the beginning of the precipitous sell-off in the commodity price, we have seen very few days where you would have a 3 percent move in crude and see stock prices hold onto gains,” said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at Wunderlich Securities in New York.

“Investors have a lot of other things to think about, … but in reality we are either going to focus on energy prices or earnings will kick in and they will shift their focus to fundamentals.”

S&P 500 earnings are forecast to have risen 4 percent in the fourth quarter, according to Thomson Reuters data, sharply under the 11.1 percent growth rate forecast on Oct. 1. Energy profits are seen dropping by more than 20 percent.

The fourth-quarter earnings season is to kick off on Monday with results from Alcoa .

Tiffany & Co on Monday cut its full-year forecast, citing a decline in holiday sales from the prior year. The stock plunged 14 percent.

The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> fell 90.81 points, or 0.51 percent, to 17,646.56, the S&P 500 <.SPX> lost 15.44 points, or 0.76 percent, to 2,029.37, and the Nasdaq Composite <.IXIC> dropped 36.22 points, or 0.77 percent, to 4,667.84.

The MSCI International ACWI Price Index <.MIWD00000PUS> fell 0.3 percent. European shares <.FTEU3> closed up 0.6 percent, after a volatile session bracketed by losses of 0.4 percent and gains of 1.1 percent.

The U.S. dollar index <.DXY> was little changed against a basket of currencies, while the euro was little changed at $ 1.1836. The yen rose 0.1 percent against the dollar.

Gold prices rose 0.8 percent while silver rose 0.2 percent. Copper lost 1 percent in its fourth straight daily decline.

In the bond market, the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note traded up 16/32 in price to yield 1.9138 percent. Spanish and Italian 10-year yields slipped after Italy’s central bank chief said on Sunday the risk of deflation in the euro zone should not be underestimated. He said the best way to tackle the problem was to buy government bonds.

(Editing by Dan Grebler and Leslie Adler)