Stocks Ended Sharply Lower; S&P 500 Below 1,900

U.S. stocks ended sharply lower on Wednesday, pushing the S&P 500 to end below 1,900 for the first time since September, on nervousness over tumbling oil prices and U.S. earnings. The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 364.81 points, or 2.21%, to 16,151.41. The S&P 500 fell 48.40 points, or 2.50%, to 1,890.28. The Nasdaq Composite was down 159.85 points, or 3.41%, to 4,526.06.

U.S. oil futures settled higher on Wednesday for the first time in eight sessions, but the move lacked conviction as U.S. government data showed that supplies of crude and crude products climbed last week and analysts continued to weigh the likelihood of a price drop toward $20 a barrel. February West Texas Intermediate crude settled at $30.48 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, up 4 cents, or 0.1%.

The U.S. economy continued to show mixed signals from late November to early January, with improvements in the labor market and consumer spending offset by the drag of a strong dollar and low energy prices, the Federal Reserve said on Wednesday.

Al Jazeera said it would shut down its American news channel, Al Jazeera America, by the end of April, less than three years after its launch. The parent company, Al Jazeera Media Network, said it would now focus on expanding its digital platforms in the U.S.

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