Wall Street shares eased back from earlier losses on a day of turmoil on global markets when the plunging oil price again panicked investors. The Dow Jones and S&P 500 indexes closed 1.56 per cent and 1.2 per cent down, still big falls but a partial relief after tumbling more than 3 per cent earlier.
Europe’s main markets fell sharply, led by the FTSE 100, which sank 3.46 per cent. Many markets are now in so-called bear market territory – a fall of 20 per cent or more from their most recent peak.
At one point, the benchmark Brent oil index was down more than 5 per cent, while US oil fell almost 7 per cent, fuelling fears about the impact on economic growth and falling revenues earned by oil-rich nations. The falls in Europe and the US came after Asian stocks closed sharply lower.