NEW YORK -- U.S. stocks fell for a second day on Tuesday following a wave of selling abroad on fears that a slump in commodity prices was far from over.
The selling began in Asia on disappointing trade figures from China, then spread to Europe where stock indexes in Germany, France and Britain each dropped more than 1 percent. In the United States, stocks fell sharply in the morning, but later made back much of the losses.
Still, the selling was broad, with nine of the 10 sectors of the Standard and Poor's 500 index closing down. Suppliers of raw materials fell the most, down 1.9 percent. Energy companies dropped 1.5 percent.
A big focus for investors -- oil -- slid again. After dropping for 1 1/2 years, U.S. benchmark crude costs just $37.51 a barrel, near a seven-year low.
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"The energy sector has done a good job grappling with mid-$40 oil, but it's tougher as you go under $40," said Doug Cote, chief market strategist at Voya Investment Management. "The energy sector is having trouble adapting."
The Dow Jones industrial average lost 162.51 points, or 0.9 percent, to 17,568. It was down 245 points earlier.
The S&P 500 gave up 13.48 points, or 0.7 percent, to 2,063.59. The Nasdaq composite slipped 3.6 points, or 0.1 percent, to 5,098.24.
In Asia, Chinese customs data showed exports from the world's second largest economy contracted 6.8 percent in November, worse than October's 3.6 percent fall. Imports dropped 8.7 percent.
Mining stocks in particular were slammed because China is a major importer of raw materials, accounting for as much as 50 percent of global demand, according to consultants PwC. Freeport-McMoran slumped 7 percent. It's down 71 per
cent this year.
John Manley, chief stock strategist at Wells Fargo Funds, said raw material suppliers ramped up production too much a few years ago as China stoked its economy after the global financial crisis.
"It surprised producers that China was soaking up so much," Manley said. "As China slows, and shifts to more consumer growth, these producers have been hit."
Iron ore, off 43 percent since the start of 2015, fell again Tuesday, shedding 15 cents to close at $39.25 a metric ton. Copper inched up less than a penny to $2.05 a pound. It is down 29 percent this year.
Among other stocks making big moves:
Outerwall plunged $14.02, or 24 percent, to $44.04 after lowering its earnings guidance and announcing the head of its movie-kiosk division, Redbox, was leaving as rentals fall.
Chipotle Mexican Grill fell $9.51, or 1.7 percent, to $542.24 on reports that 80 Boston College students were sickened after eating at one of the company's restaurants. The stock is down 21 percent so far in 2015 as the food chain struggles with the fallout from an E. coli outbreak linked to its restaurants. The company said it believes the Boston College cases are due to the norovirus, not E. coli.
Norfolk Southern fell $5.20, or 5.7 percent, to $86.32 after rejecting Canadian Pacific's latest takeover offer. Norfolk Southern has said it doubts regulators would approve the merger anyway. Canadian Pacific fell $4.47, or 2.5 percent, to $171.64.
U.S. government bond prices were flat. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note held steady at 2.23 percent. The euro edged up to $1.0897 from $1.0843 late Monday. The dollar fell to 123.02 yen from 123.33 yen.
Precious metals futures closed mixed. Gold edged up 10 cents to $1,075.30 an ounce, silver fell 22 cents to $14.12 an ounce.
Brent crude, the international benchmark, lost 47 cents, or 1.2 percent, to close at $40.26 a barrel in London.
In other trading of energy futures in New York, wholesale gasoline fell 0.6 cents to close at $1.204 a gallon, heating oil fell 2 cents to $1.259 a gallon and natural gas edged up 0.3 cent to $2.07 per 1,000 cubic feet.