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Oil prices tumble over 4% over uncertainty surrounding OPEC production cut

Barbara Kollmeyer

Oil prices tumbled Thursday, as investors grappled with a lack of clarity and signs of a lack of consensus over a decision on a production cut at an OPEC meeting in Vienna. January U.S. crude slid $2.49, or 4.7%, to $50.39 a barrel, while February Brent crude dropped nearly $3, or 4.8%, to $58.58 a barrel. Reports that Saudi oil minister Khalid-Al Falih said his country wanted a "sufficient cut, but not overly large" and a reduction of 1 million barrels a day was "adequate," the FT.com reported. That comment and reports no deal had yet been reached were credited as sending oil sharply lower. The Joint OPEC-Non-OPEC Ministerial Monitoring Committee, or JMMC, which includes the OPEC member Saudi Arabia and nonmember Russia, recommended a production cut from the September-October output levels, in a meeting Wednesday, ahead of the two-day OPEC gathering. Saudi Arabia's oil minister had already cast fresh doubt on whether that production-cut agreement would be reached by OPEC, Russia and other producers in Vienna.