U.S. Markets closed

Global demand worries drag Wall St lower

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange December 5, 2014. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

By Chuck Mikolajczak

NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. stocks were sharply lower on Tuesday as investors shunned risk over concerns about the impact of lower oil prices on the global economy and political turmoil in Greece.

Brent crude rebounded to climb 0.8 percent after it touched a fresh five-year low of $65.29 on Tuesday. Oil prices have been under pressure as the dollar strengthened and OPEC decided against an output cut, with Brent down more than 40 percent from its June high.

"You’ve seen some real volatility in everything from energy to currencies and it’s had a bit of a spillover effect on the market as people try to think about the impact of these moves," said Rick Meckler, president of LibertyView Capital Management in Jersey City, New Jersey.

"To some extent a drop in oil prices, of course, is positive, but there comes a point at which people begin to be concerned whether the drop is too much, too fast, and can there be unintended consequences."

Political unrest in Greece also brought about investor nervousness after the government brought a presidential vote forward in a political gamble that raised uncertainty over the country's transition out of its bailout.

Adding to the cautious tone was uncertainty whether the U.S. Federal Reserve will change its language to keep rates near zero for a "considerable time" when policymakers meet next week in the wake of the strong jobs report on Friday.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 191.34 points, or 1.07 percent, to 17,661.14, the S&P 500 lost 20.05 points, or 0.97 percent, to 2,040.26 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 42.84 points, or 0.9 percent, to 4,697.85.

After its seventh straight weekly gain, the S&P 500 is up 9.5 percent from its October low, but down 1.7 percent in the past two sessions.

U.S. wholesale inventories rose 0.4 percent in October, topping expectations for a 0.2 increase, which could prompt economists to raise fourth-quarter growth forecasts.

U.S.-listed shares of Seadrill gained 4.5 percent to $12.09. John Fredriksen, the biggest owner of the offshore driller, purchased another 1.3 million shares in the firm to raise his stake to 119 million shares, or 24.15 percent.

Shares in bluebird bio surged 65.9 percent to $81.12 after the company said a study for its blood disorder treatment showed patients were essentially cured.

Conn's Inc plunged 40.1 percent to $21.02 after the home appliance retailer posted a third-quarter loss and withdrew its 2015 outlook. In addition, the company said its CFO Brian Taylor had resigned.

Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by 2,059 to 916, for a 2.25-to-1 ratio; on the Nasdaq, 1,709 issues fell and 872 advanced for a 1.96-to-1 ratio.

The S&P 500 posted 14 new 52-week highs and 16 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 18 new highs and 131 new lows.

(Reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Nick Zieminski)