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ALERT -- Oil plunges below $36 and stocks tank too

ALERT -- Oil plunges below $36 and stocks tank too

Paul R. La Monica, CNN

It looks like oil is the Grinch stealing the typical Santa Claus rally the market enjoys in December.

Stocks fell sharply Friday. The Dow was down more than 200 points for much of the morning, a 1.2% decline. The Dow, S&P 500 and Nasdaq have now all fallen more than 2% this month.

The continued collapse in oil prices was clearly putting investors in a foul mood.

Crude fell more than 2% in early trading to a new seven-year low and briefly dipped below $36.

Investors wouldn’t touch big energy stocks with a 39-and-a-half foot pole. Chevron (CVX) fell 3%. Natural gas companies Southwestern Energy (SWN) and Chesapeake (CHK) plunged more than 7%.

Weaker-than-expected retail sales for November didn’t help ether.

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