Djibril Cisse had given the visitor's a first half lead only for Steed Malbranque's challenge on Steven Taylor to be adjudged a penalty in the 68th minute.
Sunderland were the better team in the first half but Newcastle rallied after the break and deserved their point.
Newcastle boss Joe Kinnear bemoaned his teams bad luck:
"There were turning points in the game and I don't think - again - the big decisions have gone our way, but that's the way it is going for us at the moment.
"We were camped in their half for most of the game and so I have to be heartened by our character today, very much so.
"As for transfers before tomorrow, I've got two players lined up who we've been speaking to and I'm confident we will get those in.
"And as for outgoings, we're waiting on Shay Given and Charles N'Zogbia's situations. There's a sticking point over Given's move to Manchester City, with a lot of haggling going on, so we will have to wait and see on both of those two. I hope they go through soon, though, so I can go and spend that money."
Meanwhile, Sunderland boss Ricky Sbragia thought a draw was a fair result:
"It was a fast and furious match between two very open teams. We had the better of the first half but we really needed the second goal to kill the game.
"Credit to Newcastle, though, they dominated the second half. However, I don't think theirs was a penalty - Taylor has played the five card trick and the officials have bought it.
"Still, even though we could have snatched the win at the end, I think a draw was probably the fair result."