Stocks plunge along with price of oil

A woman reacts near a display board showing the plunge in the Shanghai Composite Index at a brokerage in Beijing, China, Thursday, Jan. 7, 2016. Chinese stocks nosedived on Thursday, triggering the second daylong trading halt of the week and sending other Asian markets sharply lower as investor jitters rippled across the region. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
A woman reacts near a display board showing the plunge in the Shanghai Composite Index at a brokerage in Beijing, China, Thursday, Jan. 7, 2016. Chinese stocks nosedived on Thursday, triggering the second daylong trading halt of the week and sending other Asian markets sharply lower as investor jitters rippled across the region. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

NEW YORK (AP) — Another plunge in the price of crude oil sent stocks sharply lower on Wednesday, bringing the market to its lowest level in nearly two years.

Energy companies were pummeled as the price of crude oil sank 7 percent, threatening more damage to an industry that has already been stricken with bankruptcies, layoffs and other cutbacks.

The price of U.S. crude fell below $27 a barrel amid a global glut in oil supplies that seems to be getting worse. That’s the lowest price since May 2003 and a far cry from the $100 a barrel it fetched in the summer of 2014.

Overseas markets fared no better. Japan’s Nikkei index entered a bear market, down 20 percent from its peak in June, and European benchmarks lost between 3 and 4 percent.

Gold and U.S. government bonds, traditional safe havens, rose in value as investors shifted money out of stocks.

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