This story was updated at 4:23 p.m. EST.
U.S. stocks followed global markets down Tuesday after a lukewarm respite a day earlier when a tech stock rally helped offset losses in energy shares. Traders continued to use falling oil prices as a weather vane of global economic health, fueling one of the most volatile starts to a year on record with the S&P index down more than 6 percent since the first trading day in January.
“While we believe the worst is over, we think volatility will continue,” Peter Cardillo, chief market economist for First Standard Financial, said in a note on Tuesday.
The Dow (INDEXDJX:.DJI) closed down 295.64 points Tuesday, or 1.8 percent, to 16,153.54. The broader Standard & Poor’s 500 index (INDEXSP:.INX) lost 36.35 points, or 1.87 percent, to 1,903.03. The Nasdaq composite (INDEXNASDAQ:.IXIC) shed 103.42 points, or 2.24 percent, to 4,516.95. The Dow has lost about 7 percent since the start of the year, while the Nasdaq has lost about 9 percent.
Nine out of 10 S&P 500 sectors were down Tuesday. Only utilities ended the day in the green. All but one of the Dow 30 components ended the day down Tuesday. The only exception: science and technology company E I Du Pont De Nemours And Co (NYSE:DD), more commonly known as DuPont, as investors bought on a recent dip and looked to positive earnings from Dow Chemical Co. (NYSE:DOW), with which DuPont is seeking to merge. Dow said in its fourth-quarter and full-year 2105 earnings reports that low oil prices have helped its plastics division.
The yield on the benchmark U.S. 10-year Treasury fell to 1.86 percent, its lowest level since April 2015. The bond yield, which moves in the opposite direction of its price, typically falls when investors are less confident about equity markets. Gold, another so-called safe-harbor investment, gained 0.19 percent to $1,130.10 per troy ounce on Tuesday. Gold prices tend to rise as confidence in markets falls. On Tuesday the yellow metal closed at its highest level since early November.
Crude prices continued their slump after a brief pause on the apparently false hope Russia and OPEC were poised to discuss cutting output that has been exacerbating the global crude oil glut and pummeling the budgets of oil-dependent countries.
West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. benchmark for crude, dropped 5.22 percent to $29.97 per barrel for March delivery on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, the major global benchmark, lost 4.44 percent to $32.72 for April delivery on the London ICE Futures Exchange.
European shares followed energy prices down as oil giant BP PLC (NYSE:BP) reported the biggest loss in two decades and UBS Group AG (NYSE:UBS) reported bigger-than-expected outflows from its key wealth-management business.
The broad Stoxx Europe 600 index closed Tuesday down 2 percent. The Paris-based CAC 40 fell 2.5 percent while London’s FTSE shed 2.3 percent and Frankfurt’s DAX lost 1.8 percent.
China’s mainland exchanges rallied Tuesday after the People’s Bank of China primed the banking system with a 100 billion yuan ($15 billion) infusion ahead of Monday’s start to the Chinese New Year holiday. The move sent mainland shares up.
China’s broad CSI 300 Index gained 2 percent by the closing bell in Asia on Tuesday while the mainland Shanghai Composite Index followed suit with a 2.3 percent gain. The smaller Shenzhen Composite advanced 3 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng fell 0.8 percent while Japan’s Nikkei declined 0.6 percent.