Oil prices hit fresh five-and-a-half-year lows on Tuesday, with Nymex crude futures slipping below US$48 a barrel, amid mounting worries about excess supply and tepid global economic growth.
The selloff accelerated ahead of weekly US inventory data and signs that top exporter Saudi Arabia is unwilling to cut production.
Light, sweet oil for February delivery fell 4.2 percent to US$47.93 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, while Brent crude slumped 3.8 percent to US$51.10 in Europe.
The prices both mark their lowest levels since April 2009.
The continued slide in oil kept investors jittery in global stock and currency markets.
Wall Street fell for a fifth session on Tuesday, with weak economic data also weighing on traders’ minds.
Data showed slower US service sector growth in December and a further fall in new orders for manufactured goods in November.
The Dow Jones industrial average slumped 130 points to 17,371.64, while the S&P 500 index lost 0.89 percent to 2,002.61. The Nasdaq Composite index dropped 1.29 percent to 4,592.74.
The S&P 500′s losing streak was its longest in about 13 months, Reuters noted. The index has shed 4.2 percent over the last five trading sessions.
On Monday, both the Dow and S&P 500 suffered their biggest drops since early October.
Energy producers saw their shares come under further selling pressure as brokerages cut price targets amid the slide in crude prices.
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