US stock markets tumble on oil woes

NYSE traders Image copyright Reuters

(Close): The leading US share index plunged 295 points on Tuesday with oil companies and banks falling sharply.

The Dow Jones fell 1.8% to 16154.02. The S&P 500 lost 1.9% to close at 1,903.05 and the Nasdaq shed 2.2% to 4,516.95.

The biggest faller on the Dow Jones index was Goldman Sachs, which dropped by 4.8%.

Oil firm Chevron also dropped sharply, closing down by 4.7%, as oil prices fell again.

Rival Exxon Mobil, which closed down 2.2%, reported its smallest quarterly profit in more than a decade as well as forecasting a 25% drop in spending from 2015 levels.

Only one company rose on the Dow Jones Index, the chemicals company DuPont.

On the commodities markets, both Brent and US crude were down, about 4.5% and 5% respectively, with West Texas Intermediate falling below the $30 mark.

"It's all about oil today, there's no question about that," Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at First Standard Financial told Reuters.

"It's a question of strength and weakness, and so weaker oil prices just means weaker economic activity."