| GEO Business|
| Oil prices slide under 50 dollars|
| Updated at: 0144 PST, Tuesday, March 31, 2009|
NEW YORK: Oil prices tumbled below 50 dollars per barrel on Monday as the dollar strengthened and stock markets took a hit on renewed concerns for the global economy and the struggling auto sector.
New York's main futures contract, light sweet crude for delivery in May, dropped 3.97 dollars from Friday's closing price to 48.41 dollars per barrel, falling under 50 for the first time since March 18.
New York prices fell as low as 48.11 dollars per barrel after they had shot up last week to nearly 55 dollar amid economic recovery hopes arising from better-than-expected economic data.
In London , Brent North Sea crude for May shed 3.99 dollars to 47.99 dollars a barrel, after earlier passing under the psychological 50 dollar barrier for the first time since March 20.
"A strengthening dollar and weakness in global equity markets has the round-robin, push-pull in effect, pushing crude oil prices down," said John Kilduff of MF Global.
Financial markets dived on Monday after US and French auto chiefs were kicked out in a major shake-up of the industry and the OECD warned of an impending social crisis as the global slump deepens.
Stocks around the world plunged as US President Barack Obama hardened his position on further aid for ailing US automakers, giving General Motors and Chrysler new deadlines to come up with better viability plans.
Obama's auto task force said neither firm is viable at present, with GM in need of a "more aggressive" restructuring plan and Chrysler needing to seal a global alliance with Italian-based Fiat.