U.S. stocks plunged sharply on Tuesday, sending the Dow Jones into a bear market as crude oil prices continued to rise causing financial stocks to tumble as more analysts reduced earnings estimates for banks.

As of 1:39 p.m. EDT, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 140.61 points, or 1.23 percent to 11210.41, the Standard & Poor's 500 index declined 14.94 points, or 1.17 percent, to 1265.48 and the Nasdaq Composite Index lost 27.66 points, or 1.21 percent, to 2265.32.

The market was still under pressure from near-record oil prices after breaking an intraday high of $143.67 a barrel that was set just a day ago. Energy traders bid up the price of oil as the U.S. dollar weakened against the Euro and on more worries about supply disruptions in the Mideast and elsewhere. In recent trading, crude rose $2.10 to $142.10 a barrel.

The Dow average extended its retreat from an October record to more than the 20 percent, marking it as the beginning of a so-called bear market. The 30-stock gauge last experienced a bear market in 2002. The Dow lost 10.2 percent in June, 7.4 percent in the second quarter and 14.4 percent for the year to date.

Merck led the Dow in recent trading, rising more than 2 percent. Alcoa and General Motors posted the largest percentage declines on the index, losing more than 5 percent each.

Belgian-Brazillian brewing group InBev moved a step closer Tuesday toward going hostile in its Anheuser-Busch Cos. acquisition bid. Anheuser-Busch shares were down 0.8 percent at $61.63 in recent trading. InBev said it was still committed to its $46 billion offer for the St. Louis brewer, arguing that a takeover would give shareholders a safer option than Bud's own restructuring plans.