Stocks on Wall Street end sharply lower

Trader in front of screens (file photo) Image copyright EPA

(Close): US shares fell sharply on Friday as the continued fall in oil prices continued to sap investors' confidence.

The Dow Jones ended down 309 points, or 1.8%, at 17,265 points.

The wider S&P 500 fell almost 40 points to 2,012, while the tech-focused Nasdaq index dropped 111 points to 4,933.

Oil prices hit fresh seven-year lows after the International Energy Agency said growth in demand was set to slow.

Brent crude fell $1.80, or 4.5%, to $37.93 a barrel in London - a level last seen amid the 2008 global financial crisis.

US crude dropped $1.14, or 3.1%, to $35.62 - the lowest level since February 2009.

US oil has shed nearly 11% in the past week and Brent almost 12%.

Shares in US chemical firms Dow and DuPont were both lower after the two firms announced plans for a merger in deal which values the tie-up at $130bn.

DuPont shares ended down 1.6%, while Dow Chemical dropped 2.8%.