Oil prices dropped Thursday as layoffs spread, orders for big-ticket manufactured goods evaporated and the U.S. homebuilding industry posted its worst annual sales in more than two decades.
A worsening recession has cut severely into energy spending by businesses and consumers, pushing prices near five year lows.
Light, sweet crude for March delivery fell $1.12 to $41.04 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
The current price of crude has Main Street cheering and Wall Street jeering.
Main Street feels that if oil prices remain low, prices at the pump will follow -- that in turn puts more money in consumers' wallets -- and provides a boost to the economy.
However Wall Street says the low price of crude signals a slowdown in business activity -- and that means things are getting worse.
And that leads to our Fast Money Reader Poll. Do you view the low price of oil as a positive or a negative?
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CNBC.com with wires