Crude oil fell below $68 per barrel a day after OPEC decided not to cut output, which could leave markets over supplied. The 7% decline was the biggest one-day drop since May 2011, with prices lowest since 2010.
"Crude seems to have no floor right now, and we could easily see the price drop into the low $60s," said Tony Roth, chief investment officer at Wilmington Trust in Wilmington, Delaware.The Energy Select Sector SPDR exchange-traded fund fell 6.4% to $79.82 while the S&P energy index lost 6.3%, extending its run as the worst-performing S&P industry group of the year. Exxon Mobil Corp lost 4.2% to $90.54 while Chevron Corp fell 5.4% to $108.87; both are Dow components.
Shale energy companies saw outsized declines, as $70 oil is considered the level at which shale becomes an unprofitable alternative. Denbury Resources, QEP Resources and Newfield Exploration all lost more than 15%.
Oil weakness boosted airlines, which are inversely correlated to oil prices. Southwest Airlines rose 6.5% to $41.82 as the S&P 500's biggest percentage gainer, followed by Delta Air Lines, up 5.5% to $46.67.
Retailers rallied as lower gas prices could increase consumer spending. Wal-Mart Stores Inc rose 3% to $87.54, boosting the Dow, while the S&P 500 Retailing index was up 1.4%.
"[Oil] this low should be very additive to economic activity, not just with gas prices but across the economy," said Roth, who oversees $80 billion in assets. "Early holiday shopping numbers should come in pretty strong."
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 0.49 points to 17,828.24, the S&P 500 lost 5.27 points, or 0.25%, to 2,067.56 and the Nasdaq Composite added 4.31 points, or 0.09%, to 4,791.63.
Major indexes rose for a sixth straight week, the S&P's longest streak since November 2013. For the week, the Dow rose 0.1%, the S&P rose 0.2% and the Nasdaq rose 1.7%.
For November, the Dow rose 2.5%, the S&P added 2.5% and the Nasdaq 3.5%.
NYSE decliners issues outnumbered advancers 1,846 to 1,137, for a 1.62-to-1 ratio; on the Nasdaq, 1,777 issues fell and 875 advanced, for a 2.03-to-1 ratio.
The S&P 500 posted 152 new 52-week highs and 21 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 163 new highs and 80 new lows.
About 4.2 billion shares traded on all U.S. platforms, according to BATS exchange data.