NEW YORK - What a difference a week makes.
Seven days after closing at record levels on the back of a strong employment report, the stock market slumped to its worst weekly loss in 21/2 years. The catalyst for the sell-off was an extension of a rout in oil prices.
Oil plunged Friday for the fourth time in five days after the International Energy Agency said global oil demand would grow less than previously forecast next year.
The price of oil fell 12 percent for the week, going below $60 per barrel on Thursday for the first time since July 2009. U.S. benchmark oil dropped $2.14 to $57.81 a barrel on Friday.
Oil has now fallen 47 percent since reaching a peak of $107 in June this year.
A debate is raging among analysts and investors over whether tumbling oil prices are a net advantage, or a detriment, to the economy and the stock market. While consumers benefit from lower gas prices, energy companies will take a hit as their earnings are crimped.
The Standard & Poor's fell 33 points, or 1.62 percent, to 2,002.33. The index dropped 3.5 percent in the week, its biggest drop since May 2012. The Dow Jones industrial average dropped 315.51 points, or 1.70 percent, to 17,280.83. The Nasdaq composite dropped 54.56 points, or 1.16 percent, to 4,653.60.
After flirting with a close above 18,000 just one week ago, the Dow has now shed more than 700 points after being weighed down by big losses in Exxon Mobil and Chevron.
In metals trading, silver fell six cents, or 0.3 percent, to $17.06 an ounce. Gold dropped $3.10, or 0.3 percent, to $1,222.50. Copper rose a penny, or 0.4 percent, to $2.93 a pound.