U.S. crude for February delivery fell below $45 a barrel on Tuesday morning for the first time since April 2009, before recovering some ground. Brent crude futures lost over 4 percent in the morning session and were trading at $44.61 a barrel. Both have crash by around 60 percent since mid-June last year.
Read MoreWhy oil is such a problem for corporate earnings
Investors will also be watching companies set to report, as the second day of fourth-quarter corporate earnings season gets underway. IHS and KB Home are releasing numbers before the bell. Earnings from CSX, Linear Tech and Progress Software are due after market close.
Results from a number of big name financials will be published later this week, with JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo results due on Wednesday, BlackRock, Bank of America and Citigroup on Thursday and Goldman Sachs and Charles Scwab on Friday.
In the U.S., Tuesday also brings more second-tier labor market data with the latest JOLTs job openings figures at 10 a.m. ET, alongside the federal budget statement for December, due at 2 p.m.
Alcoa kicked off the unofficial start to the fourth-quarter earnings season late Monday, with the aluminum producer delivering earnings and revenue that topped expectations.
Read MoreCiting transformation, Alcoa beats on earnings
European equities were higher in morning trade on Tuesday despite a selloff in the energy sector.