Wall Street knocked by oil price slide

NYSE traders Image copyright Getty Images

(Close): Wall Street recovered from sharp falls in morning trading but still closed slightly lower, as oil prices fell sharply.

The main Dow Jones index closed down 26.09 points, or 0.2%, at 17,526.08. The wider S&P 500 was flat while the tech-heavy Nasdaq was 0.2% lower.

Both Brent and US light crude oil fell about $1.30, or 3.5%, a barrel.

On the upside, entertainment giant Disney was up 1.3% thanks to the success of the latest Star Wars film.

On Sunday, The Force Awakens became the fastest film in history to take $1bn (£674m) at the global box office.

Sportswear giant Nike also gained ground, rising 1%.


On the downside, energy stocks fell due to the slide in the oil price, with Chevron down 1.8% and Exxon Mobil 0.7% lower.

Outside the main index, Conoco Phillips fell 2.9%, while Marathon Petroleum dipped 2%.

"The 3% dive in crude oil this morning shows you that the sellers are still in control of the energy market and that's leading jitters on Wall Street, coupled with just normal digestive action after last week's strong gains," said Adam Sarhan at Sarhan Capital in New York.

Brent crude currently stands at $36.57 a barrel, while US light crude is trading at $36.70.

In the run-up to Christmas, Brent sank to $36.04, its lowest level since July 2004.

In the summer of 2014, Brent stood at almost $115, but the price has fallen dramatically due to oversupply and reduced demand.