Oil drops below $50 per barrel, sends Dow down - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Oil drops below $50 per barrel, sends Dow down

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Traders on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. AP photo Traders on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. AP photo

(NBC News) - Oil tumbled to the lowest level since April 2009 on Monday, dragging stocks down with it in a tumultuous start to the first full trading week of the year. The Dow dropped more than 300 points just after midday.

"We're starting a new year with a bit of trepidation; it's difficult for equities to get any traction when one of the asset classes is in a free fall," said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at Wunderlich Securities, referring to crude's ongoing decline. Exxon Mobil, Chevron and other oil producers fell with the price of crude.

"Clearly we haven't found a bottom in the commodity," said Hogan of oil's ongoing decline.

On the New York Mercantile Exchange, U.S. light crude, also known as West Texas Intermediate, fell 4.7 percent, with futures for February delivery falling as low as $49.95, and lately down $2.49 at $50.20 a barrel.

Just after midday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average shed 312.97 points, or 1.8 percent, to 17,520.02, with Chevron leading blue-chip declines that included 28 of its 30 components. The S&P 500 declined 36.16 points, or 1.8 percent, to 2,022.04. The Nasdaq dropped 62.02 points, or 1.3 percent, to 4,664.81.

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