Energy pros focus on holiday time … Christmas 2010

The Saudi oil dilemma

With oil U.S. sitting around $81 after hitting a two-year low of $79.44 on Monday, again, the price of oil captured the attention of Wall Street with investors unsure how to reconcile the impact on the economy.

"This has been an unanticipated decline," noted Helima Croft of RBC Capital Markets on CNBC's "Street Signs." And it has caught the Street off guard.

Gas prices are displayed at an Arco gas station on October 27, 2014 in Mill Valley, California.
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Some professional traders believe the weakness reflects a lack of demand due to deteriorating economic conditions around the world.

And if oil prices languish, they argue the impact on the stock market could be significant with the energy sector largely under pressure for some time to come. 

Others argue that lower oil is largely bullish for the economy and therefore the market. Investors in this category believe lower prices are due, in part, to increased supply coming from North America, with new technology providing access to vast reserves.

And, "The winners are consumers," added Croft. That is, the lower oil goes, the lower prices fall at the pump.

According to AAA, the average price for a gallon of gas nationally fell to $3.03.  Gas prices haven't been this low since Christmas Day 2010.

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In turn, falling gas prices not only leave a few extra dollars in the wallets of drivers; they also make individuals feel richer. Given that  rose in October to its highest since October 2007, pros believe consumers will spend more.

And that, they say, is bullish.

However, low oil prices may only be a temporary phenomenon. Croft said she doesn't think the economy of Saudi Arabia can thrive with $80 oil, therefore she thinks oil is near a floor.

And even if it can, she reminded that an exogenous event can send oil soaring. "Or, OPEC can simply decide to cut back production by a million barrels a day. Should that happen, I don't think the price environment would look like it does now."

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Gordon Johnson of Axiom Capital feels differently. Also on "Street Signs," he said high oil was buoyed by the Fed's bond buying program, which made the dollar weak, Arab spring and explosive growth in China.

Johnson said all of those catalysts are ebbing out of the market. "Therefore, I can see oil at $60 next year."