Nymex January crude oil futures dropped $1.69, or 2.2%, on Tuesday to close at $74.09 a barrel, ending at the lowest level in four years for a most-active futures contract as investors weighed the potential for OPEC to agree on a substantial cut in oil production when cartel officials meet in Vienna later this week. Oil dropped after officials from Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, and non-OPEC members Mexico and Russia's state oil giant, OAO Rosneft, announced no agreement on production cuts in a Tuesday meeting. Futures briefly pared losses after The Wall Street Journal reported that officials were inching toward an agreement to trim output, but then slumped to new lows.
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