US stocks end sharply lower after volatile session

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York City on Jan 28, 2015. -- PHOTO: AFP
Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York City on Jan 28, 2015. -- PHOTO: AFP

NEW YORK (AFP) - Wall Street stocks Wednesday finished a volatile session sharply lower as worries about the strong dollar and falling oil prices outweighed some strong earnings reports.

At the closing bell, the Dow Jones Industrial Average stood at 17,197.54, down 189.67 points (1.09 per cent).

The broad-based S&P 500 slumped 27.08 (1.33 per cent) to 2,002.47, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index fell 43.50 (0.93 per cent) to 4,637.99.

"The underlying condition of the market is still weak," said Mace Blicksilver, director of Marblehead Asset Management.

Equity markets fell decisively in the last hour of trade, as markets weighed the US Federal Reserve's policy statement, in which it described US economic growth as "solid" but pledged a "patient" approach to raising interest rates.

Analysts said the Fed statement kept alive the chance of a Fed rate hike in 2015, which Blicksilver called "very worrisome" because it would further lift the dollar.

Other worries include a new multi-year low for oil prices and uncertainty due to the Greek election.