The White House has said US President Donald Trump is focused on "exceptionally strong" fundamentals in the US economy after the Dow Jones industrial average plunged more than 1,175 points, dropping by 4.6% at the closing bell. 

Wall Street stocks endured a brutal session, with the Dow seeing one of its steepest ever one-day point drops, as the heady bullishness of early 2018 gave way to extreme volatility.

The Dow closed at 24,346.13, down 4.6%, having at one point plummeted nearly 1,600 points to hit a session low of 23,923.88.

The broad-based S&P 500 dropped 4.1% to 2,648.49, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index fell 3.8% to 6,969.45.

"The President's focus is on our long-term economic fundamentals, which remain exceptionally strong, with strengthening US economic growth, historically low unemployment, and increasing wages for American workers," White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said in a statement.

"The president’s tax cuts and regulatory reforms will further enhance the US economy and continue to increase prosperity for the American people," she said

Wall Street stocks have been on shaky ground for the last week amid concerns over elevated Treasury bond yields and the likelihood of additional Federal Reserve interest rate increases this year.

The fall comes after shares on the New York stock market hit an all-time record last month, but late last week that strong performance was reversed by a big sell-off in shares.

The drop in stocks has been partly driven by concerns about inflation and potential rises in interest rates.

The yield on 10-year US Treasury debt hit a four-year high of 2.885%, having jumped almost 7 basis points on Friday.

Rising bond yields mean higher borrowing cost for companies and an alternative investment option for traders.

European markets all closed lower this evening, while Asian markets also suffered losses in earlier trade.