The executive order said the Treasury Department could target individuals or entities that "have engaged in acts that directly or indirectly threaten the peace, security or stability of Yemen."
The order does not include names of individuals or organizations but said it applies to those who "have materially assisted, sponsored or provided financial, material or technological support" for such acts.
The United States supported the transition from former President Ali Abdullah Saleh to President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who took office in February.
"This executive order will allow the United States to take action against those who seek to undermine Yemen's transition and the Yemeni people's clear desire for change," White House spokesman Jay Carney said in a statement.
"The president took this step because he believes that the legitimate aspirations of the Yemeni people, along with the urgent humanitarian and security challenges, cannot be addressed if political progress stalls."
The United States looks to Yemen as an ally in the fight against the al-Qaida-affiliated terror group al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula in Yemen.
The United States also has increased the use of drones targeting militants in Yemen.