The Dow Jones industrial average fell 195 points, or 1.1 per cent, to close at 17,191 Wednesday, near its low point for the day. The Standard & Poor's 500 slid 27 points, or 1.4 per cent, to 2,002. Energy companies fell the most in the index, losing 4 per cent.
U.S. crude dipped $1.78 to close at $44.45 a barrel, its lowest level since March of 2009, after the Energy Department reported that inventories rose to their highest levels ever recorded.
Investors weighed the latest policy statement from the Federal Reserve. The central bank reiterated Wednesday it would remain "patient" in raising rates, and it outlined a brighter view of the economy.