Crude oil prices slumped to a 50-month low Tuesday, two days ahead of a key meeting by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.
Benchmark West Texas Intermediate crude for January delivery fell 2.5% to $73.88 a barrel - lowest since September 2010 - while Brent crude dipped 2% to $78.10. The declines were the latest in a protracted slide that's pushed crude oil down more than 30% from 2014's June peak.
OPEC members are scheduled to meet Thursday, at which it will likely be determined if production should be reined in to halt oil's five-month slide . But there doesn't appear to be a consensus among major oil producers, and if no agreement is reached, crude oil - along with gas prices - could continue to drop.
"Unless we see a meaningful cut out of OPEC, crude oil prices can continue to slide,'' says Gianna Bern, a University of Notre Dame finance professor and principal in energy practice Brookshire Advisory and Research. "Prices south of $70 a barrel are certainly plausible."