ECONOMY

Price of crude oil slumps below $50 a barrel, bringing fears of a sluggish economy

Traders Richard Scardino, left, and Gregory Rowe, center, confer on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange Monday, Jan. 5, 2015. US stocks opened lower Monday, led by declines in energy stocks as the price of oil plunged again.  (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

Traders Richard Scardino, left, and Gregory Rowe, center, confer on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange Monday, Jan. 5, 2015. US stocks opened lower Monday, led by declines in energy stocks as the price of oil plunged again. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)  (The Associated Press)

Another plunge in the price of oil is driving stocks sharply lower.

Energy companies led the decline as crude dipped below $50 a barrel Monday.

Other stocks also fell as traders worried that the drop could indicate a weaker global economy and possibly lead to a dangerous, wider drop in other prices in the economy.

The Dow Jones industrial average lost 331 points, or 1.9 percent, to 17,501. It was down as much as 357 earlier.

The Standard & Poor's 500 fell 37 points, or 1.6 percent, to 2,024. The Nasdaq fell 56 points, or 1.2 percent, to 4,671.

In Europe, the euro sank to a nine-year low as traders worried that Greece might leave the currency union. European markets closed sharply lower.