Oil prices have been sliding further below the USD $30 per barrel level. Since mid-2014 crude oil prices have been in a state of decline due to high output worldwide (the US shale gas revolution and no brakes on output in the OPEC countries) and softer oil demand amid sluggish global growth (particularly China's economic slowdown). Moreover, Iran is set to be back in the oil market as international sanctions on the country have been lifted.

Last Friday US stocks plunged causing Wall Street to experience its worst two-week start to a year ever. Due to crude oil sliding to the lowest level since 2003, energy shares were badly affected. But also other sectors were plagued by heavy selling (with financials and technology stocks among the largest losers).

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 2.4 percent, the S&P 500 index slid 2.2 percent (a 15-month low), and the Nasdaq composite fell 2.7 percent. Today, Wall Street is closed for a market holiday (Martin Luther King Jr Day).

Weak US retail sales and US industrial output in December added concern that US economic growth braked sharply in the last quarter of 2015. Meanwhile, US Q4-2015 corporate earnings are expected to fall 4 percent (m/m). With the US economy weaker-than-expected investors expect to see only one interest rate hike in 2016