Oil in Asia falls below $49 on bleak US economic news

Oil prices fell to near a 3-year low below $49 a barrel Tuesday in Asia, as more bleak US economic news and plunging stocks markets darkened investor expectations for crude demand. Light, sweet crude for January delivery was down 57 cents to $48.57 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange by midmorning in Singapore. The contract plummeted overnight $5.15 to settle at $49.28 after more signs of a weakening US economy sent the Dow Jones industrial average down 7.7 percent. Prices fell to an intraday low of $48.25 last month, the lowest since 2005.