"It is slowly becoming apparent that the slide in commodity prices could well turn into a more prolonged slump and while in some respects that has a net benefit for consumers at one end it has a rather chilling effect at the other end in the context of highly leveraged basic resource stocks, as well as banks that have large lending exposures to the sector," said chief market analyst at CMC Markets, Michael Hewson.
Analysts had expected this week to be relatively quiet with traders awaiting the Fed's rate decision next week. The Fed is expected to raise its fed funds target rate by 0.25 percent, in the first rate hike in nine years.
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In Europe, equities failed to hold on to early gains amid a slight recovery in oil prices, following yesterday's harsh sell-off .