Wall Street fell overnight, while US Treasuries rose, after oil gave up earlier gains as a US report raised fresh concerns about the global glut.
Oil pared earlier gains after an Energy Information Administration report showed US crude inventories rose 234,000 barrels to 482.6 million last week, while supplies in Cushing, Oklahoma rose to a record of 64 million.
Gasoline stockpiles jumped a higher-than-expected 8.4 million barrels to 240 million barrels, the highest since February, while distillate stocks also climbed more than expected, up 6.1 million barrels.
"People have seen in the past that these oil rallies have been very short, and to the extent they influence the equity markets, there is certainly some profit-taking going on," Rick Meckler, president of LibertyView Capital Management in Jersey City, New Jersey, told Reuters. "People are selling every rally that is based on the movement of oil, because by the end of the day it can turn around and be down another 5 percent."
Wall Street fell. In 13.00pm trading in New York, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.9 percent, while the Nasdaq Composite Index shed 1.5 percent. In 12.45pm trading, the Standard & Poor's 500 Index dropped 0.9 percent.
US Treasuries gained, pushing the yield on the 10-year note seven basis points lower to 2.10 percent.
"The continued risk-off sentiment is helping the rates market," Shyam Rajan, head of US rates strategy at Bank of America in New York, one of the 22 primary dealers that trade with the Federal Reserve, told Bloomberg. "The key drivers remain China and oil prices."
Slides in shares of Home Depot and those of Goldman Sachs, last trading 2.3 percent and 2.2 percent lower respectively, led the drop in the Dow.
Investors took some heart from China's latest trade data, as well as signs that its efforts to stabilise its equity and currency markets are gaining traction.
"We believe China is sending a strong message to speculators and trying to stabilise RMB depreciation expectations," HSBC said in a research note, according to Reuters.
A Reuters poll of economists forecast China will report on January 19 that its economic growth slowed to 6.8 percent in the fourth quarter, from 6.9 percent in the third quarter.
Bucking the trend, shares of General Motors rose, last trading 1 percent higher, after the company lifted its 2016 earnings per share forecast. The car maker also said it will increase its stock buyback program by US$4 billion to US$9 billion, and raise its dividend.
General Motors increased its 2016 earnings per share forecast to between US$5.25 and US$5.75 per share, up from its October 1 forecast for between US$5.00 and US$5.50 per share.
CEO Mary Barra remained optimistic about China.
"We still are very strong on China," Barra said, according to Reuters. Long term, the Chinese auto market could grow to 35 million vehicles from about 25 million currently, she said. Even so, "it's going to be very volatile."
In Europe, the Stoxx 600 Index finished the session with a 0.4 percent advance from the previous close. France's CAC 40 Index added 0.3 percent, while the UK's FTSE 100 Index gained 0.5 percent. Germany's DAX Index fell 0.3 percent.