Crude oil dropped below 50 U.S. dollars a barrel on Tuesday as investors grew more concerned about corporate earnings and global energy demand.
Light, sweet crude for May delivery fell 1.9 dollars to settle at 49.15 dollars a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
Oil prices have been closely following the performance of stock markets. U.S. stocks continued to fall on Tuesday with major indexes losing more than 2 percent. Investors are worried that the U.S. government's effort to help banks might not work and first-quarter earnings reports might be worse.
Confidence among U.S. chief executive officers retreated in the first quarter to the lowest level in at least seven years, according to Washington-based Business Roundtable's economic outlook.
Investors also predict the oil inventories will rise last week, which added to the sell of the futures. The U.S. Energy Information Administration is set to release its weekly inventory report Wednesday morning, and the International Energy Agency will follow with its monthly global oil demand survey and outlook on Friday.
In London, Brent crude for May delivery fell 1.02 dollars to settle at 51.22 dollars a barrel on the ICE Futures Exchange.