NEW YORK --- Crude oil fell below $50 a barrel today after the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries postponed a decision to reduce output until its next meeting on Dec. 17, Bloomberg reported today.

OPEC representatives said the organization would use the extra time to gauge the impact of a 1.5 million-barrel-a-day reduction agreed to in October.

"OPEC sent a valentine to the bears," Tim Evans, an energy analyst with Citi Futures Perspective in New York, told Bloomberg. "Rather than announce a production cut over the weekend, they said they might cut when they next meet on Dec. 17. It looks like they missed an opportunity to support prices by making a cut sooner rather than later."

Crude oil for January delivery dropped $4.70, or 8.6 percent, to $49.73 a barrel at 12:52 p.m. on the New York Mercantile Exchange, Bloomberg reported.